Shibori skirt with 16 panels – how should I order the panels?

Hi, in August I experimented with some indigo dyeing, which you can read about here. Then I wanted to try dyeing several pieces of cotton muslin to make a 16-panel Shibori skirt. (I wrote about how I made each design in this post.)

Now my challenge is finalizing the order of the panels. I dyed eight pieces of fabric, each with a different design but I tried to keep them about the same intensity of blue so the skirt will have a cohesive look. Even so, I’m not so sure they all work together. The skirt has eight panels for the front and eight for the back. It’s an A-line skirt from a Japanese sewing book Basic Black – so just imagine the panels in a trapezoid shape.

I dyed four smaller pieces of fabric for the top row of panels and four larger pieces for the bottom row, which is taller than the top row. This meant that I was limited to four specific designs for the top and four for the bottom. After fooling around with different variations, here’s the order I like for the top four panels of my Shibori skirt.

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dyed designs

I posted another variation of this on Instagram and Twitter, which you can see here. On IG, Shana Levy McCracken (@lanachevy) suggested flipping the striped panel so the darker stripes were on the bottom, Ka Yun Cheng (@kayun.cheng) agreed – and so did I. On Twitter, Josefina Segura (@joevacom), a blogger (Coser a Color) from Uraguay, suggested this reorder of the panels, which is how I eventually got to this arrangement. I really appreciate getting comments and replies from social media!

Here’s one option for the bottom row…

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dyed designs

… and here’s another option for the bottom row with the order of the last two panels flipped.

Shibori skirt fabric designs for 16-panel skirt

Now I need to decide which bottom row to use. Here’s option 1:

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dye - 8 designs

And here’s option 2:

Shibori skirt fabric - indigo dyed- 8 designs

Which one do you like best for my Shibori skirt? Option 1 or 2? I’m leaning towards Option 2. The darker bottom right panel seems to go better with the panel above it.

Happy sewing!

Shibori - indigo dyed fabric for a 16-panel skirt

DIY Shibori – indigo dyeing – Part 2

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. ūüôā

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

Washing indigo fabric – a DIY tutorial for hand-dyed fabric

Hi, I wrote a post earlier this month about the indigo dyeing workshop I organized for the Bay Area Sewists, which you can read here. However, that post just focused on the dyeing part. That post¬†got really long¬†and then I realized that I didn’t discuss washing indigo¬†fabric after it has finished oxidizing. So here’s that important bit of information.

Indigo dyed fabric - Bay Area Sewists meetup -

When you take your fabric out of the indigo dye bath, it starts turning blue when it’s exposed to oxygen.¬†It takes about 20 minutes for indigo dye to oxidize.¬†When I took the Craftcation indigo dyeing workshop, we were told to rinse the fabric and then launder it. This will prevent the dye from “crocking” or transferring to something else, such as a white couch. ūüėȬ†You may need to wash your indigo dyed fabric more than once to prevent crocking.

I’m going to make a skirt with some of my indigo-dyed fabric and I don’t want to worry about ruining someone’s furniture when I sit down. So I called Dharma Trading, which sells a wide range of their own fabric dyes, including indigo and the Jacquard indigo dye kits. I was told to rinse the indigo-dyed fabric for 20 minutes under running water and then I could try washing it with hot water with Retayne. Well, it turns out Retayne is for commercially dyed fabrics and when I called my local fabric store¬†Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, to see if they carried Retayne, I discovered that it not only carries Retayne but Synthrapol,¬†which removes excess dye from hand dyed fabrics,” according to the label.

Synthrapol - for hand dyed fabric -

So I needed Synthrapol. I got this 16 oz. bottle for $6.95 from Stonemountain.¬†You can also buy a 16 oz. bottle on Amazon for $13.75 (affiliate link here). There’s also a 4 oz. bottle available as well.

The directions on the label says that when you wash your hand dyed fabric for the first time, wear gloves, add 1 teaspoon of Synthrapol per gallon of very hot water, wash for 5 minutes, rinse well and dry. You can also machine wash in the hot cycle and add 1-2 teaspoons per load to form 1/4″ of suds, run 8 to 10 minutes. Then run through complete warm rinse.

After that initial laundering, wash with warm water, not hot.

To recap, here’s the process for washing your hand dyed fabric for the first time.

Step 1: Rinse hand-dyed indigo fabric under running water for 20 minutes. I rinsed it in the bathtub but I didn’t want to run the water that long. We’ve been dealing with drought in California so I couldn’t bring my self to run the water that long. I rinsed for about 5 minutes. Squeezed out the excess water and then rinsed for another 5 minutes.

Washing indigo fabric - rinse for 20 min. under running water -

Step 2: Washing indigo fabric in hot water with 1 teaspoon of Synthrapol. I use a Rubbermaid dish tub I got at a hardware store (15.25 quarts, 14.43 liters). It has convenient handles on the sides. You can get it on Amazon, too (affiliate link here).

Washing indigo fabric - for first wash, wash in hot water with Synthrapol -

Step 3: Rinse in warm water.

If you want to machine wash your indigo dyed garment after this initial hot wash, I would recommend washing it with a color catcher – a dye-trapping sheet you throw in with your wash. It picks up stray color and prevents dye from depositing from one garment to another. I use the Shout color catcher, which you can find in the grocery store sold near the laundry detergent and dryer sheets. (Amazon affiliate link here.)

Keep in mind that the indigo color will fade as you wash it so wash with care. I think I’ll wash in cold water and line dry.

For a more in-depth explanation of how to prevent color transfer, bleeding, and fading, check out this post from the home and garden website Dengarden.

I still need to write Part 2 of my Indigo dyeing experiments. I’ll do that in September so stay tuned!

Tutorial - How to treat indigo-dyed fabric - hand dyed, Synthrapol, DIY -

DIY Shibori – Indigo dyeing fabric – Part 1

Hi, earlier this year, I took an indigo dyeing (also known as Shibori) workshop taught by Anna Joyce at Craftcation, which was so easy and so much fun. You can see photos from the workshop in my post My Craftcation 2016 Weekend. When I posted photos on my Instagram feed (@csews), a Bay Area Sewists member Ali (@sewmsboncha), commented that I should teach it to our meetup group (I organize monthly meetups for the Bay Area Sewists). I thought, why not pass along what I learned?

Shibori - Indigo dye results - Bay Area Sewists -

So four months later, I finally taught the Shibori workshop the first Saturday in August, passing along what I learned. The above photo is some of the lovely dyed fabric drying outside. We held this meetup at The Sewing Room in Alameda, courtesy of its lovely owner Jennifer Serr who graciously let us invade her space last Saturday afternoon.  Jennifer offers sewing classes at The Sewing Room and sells Tilly and the Buttons patterns as well as her own pattern line, Bonjour Teaspoon, in the shop.

I used the same indigo tie dye kits we used at Craftcation –¬†the Jacquard Indigo Tie Dye Kit. I also bought five-gallon buckets at Home Depot , which we filled¬†with¬†four gallons of water.¬†Here are some of the supplies I gathered: buckets, sticks to stir the dye, and the kits – taken before I left for Alameda.

Indigo tie dye supplies -

The kits are really easy to use. You get¬†the¬†indigo powder and two other separately packaged ingredients – thiox and soda ash – to pour in the water. (Thiox is a reducing agent, which means it reduces the oxygen in the water. Soda ash fixes the dye to the fiber you’re dyeing.) According to Anna Joyce, it doesn’t matter what order you put¬†them in because the indigo is pre-reduced, which means it easily dissolves in the water.

However,¬†I just watched this video by Jacquard, which says to put the indigo in first, followed by the soda ash and thiox. Well, we did it both ways indigo first and last and didn’t have any problems with the dye. You can always follow¬†the manufacturer’s instructions and watch their video –Indigo Tie Dye Kit from Jacquard Products:

I got the kits at Artists & Craftsman Supply in Berkeley, which is conveniently located near Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. ūüėČ So Bay Area folks, the next time you’re buying fabric, just go across the street and walk¬†a half-block down to the art supply store and pick up an¬†indigo dye kit. You can also buy the kits from Dharma Trading here¬†($8.49 per kit) or on Amazon for $9.97, affiliate link here. There is enough dye for 15 shirts or 15 yards of fabric.

I also got¬†three different sizes of rubber bands to use (size 8, 16 and 64), plus cotton twine to use to manipulate the fabric. Size 8 are really tiny – they fit around my pinkie finger. I remember that we had tiny rubber bands at Craftcation, which are useful when you want to make small circle shapes in your fabric. I ordered¬†them via Amazon (affiliate link here) because regular office supply stores don’t carry that¬†size. They had a lot of size 16 (thin long rubber bands) and size 64,the thick rubber bands. In reading about Shibori – after the workshop – I see that at Craftcation, we mostly did the shape resist technique – or itajime shibori – where you fold and bind the fabric and a variation of kumo shibori – pleat and bind. Some of just did binding, no pleating.

Rubber bands for indigo dyeing -

I gave each Bay Area Sewist a¬†yard of muslin to play around with. (The dye works best with natural fibers – cotton, linen, silk, wool, and rayon.) We folded, twisted, clamped, and tied the fabric and then put it in the dye bath. I prewashed (and ironed!) the muslin a few days before the¬†Bay Area Sewists workshop to ensure that the dye would take. At Craftcation the tea towels and tote bags we dyed were a little dye resistant. The finishing on the fabric was the problem. Anna said she didn’t have any problems at another workshop she taught so she was surprised. I guess the materials came from a different supplier.

Shibori - indigo dyeing - folding and binding fabric - Bay Area Sewists -

One member, Maria, asked if the fabric should be wet first and I said it wasn’t necessary because we didn’t wet it at Craftcation and I prewashed the fabric.

I relied on¬†my Craftcation experience to lead the workshop but in retrospect¬†I should have at least read¬†the Jacquard instructions more¬†thoroughly. My apologies, Bay Area Sewists! I spent more time gathering supplies than anything else. Jacquard says to wet the fabric after you fold/tie/bind it¬†and squeeze out the excess water and air. Then you put it in the dye bath. If I do this again, I’d like to do a comparison – prepare the fabric in the exact same way, then wet one piece of fabric and leave the other one dry and see what happens after dyeing it.

Here’s what I did with one piece of muslin – accordion-folded and then folded in thirds and then I held it together with three rubber bands. The rubber bands weren’t too tight because I was more interested in the folding lines and didn’t really care about the lines the rubber bands would create.

Shibori - Indigo dyeing - pleating fabric


As you can see, there’s a lot of white space. I decided I wanted it to be blue so I put it back in the dye bath and now it looks like the last photo. I think I like the previous version better. Next time!

Everyone had fun experimenting. Here’s how Jacquard says you’re supposed to take your fabric out of the dye bath -” squeeze it just below the surface as you slowly remove it from the vat. You want to prevent splashing as this introduces oxygen back into the vat.” You can read the full instructions here.

Shibori - Indigo dyeing fabric - Bay Area Sewists - C Sews

One fascinating thing about indigo dye is that the fabric is green when you first take it out of the dye and then when it oxidizes, it turns indigo blue. For a darker blue, you just wait about 20 minutes for it to fully oxidize and then put it back in the dye bath. You can keep putting it back in for a darker color Рbut you need to wait for it to oxidize before you dip it again. Keep in mind that when wet, the color looks a couple of shades darker than it will when dry.

I took a bucket of dye home and posted a video on Instagram that shows how green fabric initially is. You can see that it gets darker when it’s out of the dye bath – and you can see the other fabric that’s been out of the dye bath for a longer time. (You might have to wait a little bit for it to load because it’s taking the video from IG.)

A video posted by Chuleenan | C Sews (@csews) on

What I learned at Craftcation was the tighter you tie/twist/clamp it, the more white space you’ll have. So if you want more indigo blue in your fabric, make sure more fabric is exposed to the dye and that you loosely tie/twist your fabric.

What’s so great about indigo dyeing is that you see your results so quickly and you can just have fun experimenting with manipulating the fabric.

Shibori - Indigo dyed fabric - Bay Area Sewists meetup -

At Craftcation we were only using the dye for that workshop, which is likely why Anna Joyce didn’t mention anything about not introducing oxygen to the dye bath. No one was going to keep the dye so it didn’t matter if the dye oxidized. If the dye is oxidized, it will be indigo, .

The bottom line: You¬†do need to be careful about introducing oxygen to the dye bath. This means no splashing when you put the fabric in the dye bath, slowly¬†stirring the dye, and putting¬†the lid on it in between dyeing. If the dye oxidizes it won’t adhere to the fibers as well.

The day after the workshop, I cut up a couple of yards of muslin and experimented with different folding/twisting/binding techniques. I’ll reveal the results of those experiments next week – with plenty of photos – in Part 2. UPDATE: I decided to write a post about washing indigo-dyed fabric before I wrote about my dye experiments.

Meanwhile, check out the Shibori techniques in these articles. (If I do the workshop again,¬†I’ll have a lot more information to pass along!)

  • Shibori DIY – a Dharma Trading article on three Shibori resist techniques: Arashi (pole-wrapping), Kumo (twist and bind), and Itajime (shape resist).
  • DIY Shibori – a HonestlyWTF article showing the Arashi and Kumo¬†techniques with photos of the binding and the results.
  • DIY Shibori Designs – a Design Sponge article on three folding techniques and how to make abstract rings of white.

Have you done any indigo dyeing? What’s your favorite binding technique?

Shibori - indigo dyeing workshop -