DIY Shibori – indigo dyeing – Part 2

Shibori - indigo dyeing - pleated and folded in triangles

Hi, in August I wrote Part 1 about DIY Shibori and then a follow-up post about washing indigo-dyed fabric. Part 1 was about the indigo dyeing workshop I organized for the Bay Area Sewists and goes into more detail about mixing the dye and some Shibori techniques. Towards the end of that post I mentioned that I would reveal the results of my additional dye experiments because I had taken a bucket of dye home to try a few more folding and binding techniques.

Basic Black - 26 edgy essentials for the modern wardrobe by Sato WatanabeI had wanted to have a total of eight pieces of fabric, each with a different design so I could use the fabric to make a 16-sectioned skirt. The pattern is from the Japanese sewing book Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe. The A-line skirt has eight panels for the front and eight for the back. I already had one dyed piece from the workshop so I needed to dye seven more pieces of fabric that were large enough to fit two skirt sections each: four were about 18″ x 20″ (46 cm x 51 cm) and the other three were bigger, to fit the bottom pattern pieces, roughly 18″ x 35.5″ (36 cm x 90 cm).

I made a version of this skirt in a solid black cotton piquet, which you can see here. It’s hard to see the different sections in the finished photos because I’m not great at photographing black.

For my DIY Shibori experiments, I tried doing a variety of things to the muslin – using clothes pins, rubber bands, chopsticks, cotton twine, and curtain rings – and then hand-basting and gathering, pleating and folding or binding the fabric.

After everything was bound, I wet them in my bathroom sink before I took them outside to dip in the dye bath. Pre-wetting your fabric is supposed to make the fabric more receptive to the dye. But what’s more important is that you prewash your fabric before dyeing so you remove any sizing or chemicals that have been used to treat the muslin.

DIY Shibori - Wetting fabric for indigo dying

DIY Shibori – Eight variations

Here’s what the fabric looks like when it’s dry. I had photos of the fabric as it was drying but the color is darker when it’s wet so I decided to rephotograph them – thus the additional delay in doing this post. (Please excuse the folds – I’ve had the fabric neatly folded in a bag, waiting to be cut and sewn.)

1.) I randomly clipped clothes pins to the muslin and got this nice result. The clothespins had been dyed from the workshop. 🙂

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - clothespins to resist dye

2.) I folded the fabric lengthwise a few times and then put chopsticks at an angle, securing them with small rubber bands. I copied the technique of one of the Bay Area Sewists members at the workshop. You can see exactly where the chopsticks were on the fabric. The darker parts of the fabric were the two sides that were directly exposed to the dye bath.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - placing chopsticks at an angle

3.) Next, I hand basted the muslin like so…

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - hand-basted muslin

… and then I gathered it, knotting the threads at the ends and put it in the dye bath to get this intriguing result. I didn’t gather it too tightly or else I’d get too much white, which I wanted to avoid.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - hand-basting and gathering fabric

4.) Here I folded the fabric into wide pleats and then folded that into triangles to get this nice result. The dark edges were exposed to the dye bath the longest.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - pleated and folded in triangles

When I first took it out of the dye bath, it looked like this. The mere act of folding makes it resist the dye – pretty amazing, isn’t it? So I put it back in the dye bath to make it all blue. I think if I had a really lightweight fabric, this design would make an interesting scarf.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - triangles

5.) For this result, I folded the fabric and wound it around a small water bottle (16.9 oz/500 ml) and then put a bunch of rubber bands around it. The darkest part of the fabric was the part that was exposed directly to the dye bath. The other side of the fabric is a lot lighter.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - wrapping fabric around a water bottle

The water bottle looked like this when I first took it out of the dye bath.

DIY Shibori - Water bottle with indigo-dyed fabric

And here’s what the fabric looked like when I unwrapped it. The fabric closest to the bottle didn’t absorb much dye. So I dipped that part in the dye to get that a little darker. If I used something wider, then I’d have a larger dark area.

DIY Shibori - Indigo-dyed fabric - water bottle

6.) For this experiment, I pleated the fabric at a diagonal and then used small rubber bands to hold the pleats in place. You have to be careful not to move the rubber bands so those areas will resist the dye. If I try this again, I think I would use cotton twine, which won’t move around so much.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeingn - pleating and binding with rubber bands

7.) Here I put tied two curtain rings inside the fabric, folding the fabric at a diagonal and then using cotton twine to tie it together. The curtain rings made the two circles in the fabric.

DIY Shibori - indigo dying with curtain rings and twine

8.) Pleating and folding the fabric means that a lot of the fabric will resist the dye. I didn’t want any white so after the initial dip, which was done at the workshop, I put it back in the dye bath unfolded so the rest of the fabric would be dyed. I wanted all of the muslin to be blue for my skirt.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyeing - pleating and folding

Here’s what pleated fabric typically looks like after the first dip – a lot of white. So I put it back in the dye bath to make it blue. It’s still wet here so the blue is a few shades darker than the color it is when it’s dry.

DIY Shibori - indigo dyed fabric - pleated

So these are the eight pieces of fabric that I will be using to make my skirt. I’ll post WIP (work-in-progress) photos when I cut the fabric. I’m hoping it’ll look good and not too much like some tie-dyed garment.

Have you made anything from fabric you’ve dyed?

DIY Shibori - Indigo dyeing - before and after

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

7 thoughts on “DIY Shibori – indigo dyeing – Part 2”

  1. These are amazing! I really want to get some dye and do some experimenting for myself! My favorite are the dots from the wooden clothespins!

    1. Thank you! I enjoyed experimenting with different configurations. It’ll be interesting figuring out which pattern piece goes where. I think I’ll need to put the fabric on the floor to see all the possibilities before I start cutting.

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