One of my passions is textile design. I don't get to do it enough these days, and I was thrilled to be able to take a natural dye class at The Workroom taught by Julie Sinden, an amazing textile artist. This class blew my mind!!! I'm fascinated by process, and how people have figured out how to do the intricate techniques involved in so many crafts, so this class was right up my alley. We used 5 types of dyestuff all found in nature, such as the heartwood of a tree, roots of plant, and a beetle!! It was really amazing to see the color that came out of this stuff. I want to share some photos to show the the amazing color, but also give you a small tutorial on how to create a beautiful textile using the shibori stitch resit method.
Here are some of the beautiful results, courtesy of mother nature. Based on the type of fabrics used and the method of fabric preparation prior to dying, you get a variety of hues, values and tones for each single dye.
Cochineal- From a beetle Logwood- Heartwood from a Logwood tree
Osage-shredded wood of a tree Madder- Roots of several plants and trees
Now for the tutorial...
Shibori is basically tie dye, as we know it in North America. It is a very ancient Japanese art form dating back to the 8th century. WOW! Fabric is tied, bound, folded, or twisted in various ways to create a resist so that the dye will only penetrate certain parts of the fabric, leaving behind a beautiful pattern. There are lots of different techniques that give a wide variety of beautiful results.
Shibori is traditionaly dyed using Indigo, which requires a bit of laborious preparation. It's a really fun and rewarding process, but if you're looking for a quick and easy alternative, acid or procion MX dye are both great options, however they are chemical dyes.
The important thing is to use a dye that "takes" quickly to the fabric. This means that the fabric will not have to sit in the dye bath for a very long time and the water will not penetrate the resisted areas.
Each dye manufacturer will have different instructions for their products, and for that reason I will only give directions for preparing the fabric to be dyed. I recommend that you follow the manufacturers instructions for the dye step. I've provided sources for dye manufactures that will ship to you...
- Natural fabric in required yardage (Cotton or silk)
- Upholstery thread or bell thread
- Hand sewing needle
- Desired dye ( I recommend indigo or acid)
- Wine (optional)
- Step 1 - Create your design With a pencil, lightly draw a pattern onto the fabric. It can be any kind of pattern. I created a grid of 2" x 2" squares, and the drew petals in each square to make a sort of geometric flower pattern. (Sorry for the faint lines!)
- Step 2 - Create your stitches 1. Fold fabric along the lines of your design 2. Using the upholstery thread, sew a baste stitch through the two layers of fabric, following the design. 3. IMPORTANT: Don't allow your stitch lines to intersect. If you are approaching a stitch and are about to intersect with it, end your stitch. Leave a tail of thread without tying a knot. You will use these thread tails to pull on in the next step.
- Step 3 - Gather fabric Now that your basting is finished, you'll have a lovely jungle of loose thread to tug on. Grab a glass of wine, and take this step on stitch at a time. Pull on the threads as tight as you can, gathering the fabric along the stitch. Tie a knot to secure each stitch tightly.
Look how small the piece becomes!
- Step 4: Dip fabric into the dye bath This is where you will want to follow the dye manufacturer' instructions for dying
Here 's the little guy hanging out by the poolside!
- Step 5: Remove stitches Once dipped into your dye, you can remove all the stitches. This is the best part!
The front has a more crisp pattern and you can see the stitch marks
The back has a softer, cloud like affect. I think both are pretty!
I plan to sew these up into cushion covers, but I have plenty more plans for pretty things to make. Tie-dye is back, baby!