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Shibori! The perfect project for sunny day crafting!

We got a taste of SUNSHINE and warmer days to come here in Portland recently and of course here at collage we can’t help but start thinking about crafting outdoors! Jacquard makes an excellent Indigo dye kit that makes the ancient craft of Shibori accessible for all of us. The term Shibori means to wring, squeeze or press and it includes many Japanese dyeing techniques some of which date back to ancient times. The process feels magical on account of the color change that happens with oxidation so it is a little different than your average dye. Looking for ways to get creative responsibly in these strange times? Shibori is a great project for a small socially distanced backyard get-together with friends- adults and kids alike! Let's do this!

Supplies you will need:

  • Things to Dye! (Natural fibers like 100% cotton work best) *More on what we used below

  • A clean 5 gallon bucket with a lid, if you don't have one laying around pick one up at a hardware store.

  • 4 gallons warm tap water

  • Something to stir with, we used a cut of wood but you could use a strong clean stick or a dowel instead.

  • A container you can fill with water to soak your fabric before dying (we used a Rubbermaid)

  • a large sheet of plastic or garbage bag to layout your dyed fabric while oxidizing


and the CUTEST

(aka Fanny pack)

This is also a good time to re-use that stained table cloth/t-shirt, etc! Make it fabulous again!

**PRE-WASH all your fabric to removing any sizing and or dirt/dust/oils for best results.**

Here is a picture of the contents of Jacquard's Indigo Tie Dye Kit. It includes Soda Ash, Pre-reduced indigo dye, Sodium Hydrosulfite, A quick instruction guide and a more in-depth Instruction manual, two sizes of rubber bands, some wooden rectangles, and popsicle sticks for masking, and some rubber gloves.

Let's get started with our first technique! This process is called "Nui shibori". This process is a little more time-consuming so we suggest doing it ahead of time. There are all sorts of complicated things you can do using this technique. We kept it fairly simple, in the picture below you can see how we did a wavy running stitch across the cotton tote. We were careful to go through both layers and leave the threads loose on each of the sides.

After the stitching was done we carefully pulled the threads and scrunched up the fabric. Then we knotted the thread at the sides so they kept it scrunched. After dying we will clip these threads and pull them out the reveal the design. This is ready to be soaked in the water tub.

Here is a picture of the fanny pack, EH HEM, excuse me, I think the kids call it a hip bag these days. We did a variety of techniques here. First, we accordion folded the flap and secured it with binder clips. When folding be sure to do an accordion fold so that the dye has a way to get into all the flaps. Next, we used wooden clothespins on the straps on either side. Then we accordion folded the flap that is attached to the side of the bag leading to the strap and placed the popsicle sticks on either side rubber banding the ends that stick out to secure it. On the front side, we rubber-banded a few circles. On the backside, we used more binder clips. It looks complicated but it didn't take long.

We used similar techniques on the zipper pouch folding and securing 3 clothespins on the bottom and placing binder clips on the top.

Here is a yard and a half of 100% cotton fabric we secured with rubber bands. In traditional shibori this type of technique is done by tying the fabric with string, so feel free to try that as well! We pinched up little bits of fabric and wrapped them each 3-4 times with the smaller rubber bands that came with the kit.

Warning!: There weren't enough in the kit to do this many circles, but luckily we had extras on hand. This process is a bit time-consuming but well worth it for the result you will see in a bit.

Now it's time to mix the dye! Put four gallons of warm water in your clean 5-gallon bucket. Add the three packets from your kit (Soda Ash, Pre-reduced indigo dye, Sodium Hydrosulfite) and stir in one direction until dissolved. When they are dissolved drag your stick in the opposite direction of the stirring and drag it out. Cover the bucket with the lid and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

Time to pre-soak your fabric! To the left are the pieces we did today and below are some pre-soakers from a past Shibori dying day. We will show results for a wide variety of techniques so you can decide what you want to try!

In the instruction manual it says to let the dye sit for an hour "for best results" so we let it sit for an hour.

When the dye is ready it will form a "bloom" (bubbles and a sort of murky surface). When you are ready to add fabric, put on your gloves and push the bloom to the side as you lower your piece into the dye. Be sure to squeeze any air out of the fabric and don't stir and encourage bubbles. The less oxygen that is introduced the better your dye will do. It also says to hold the fabric for the duration so it doesn't pick up debris from the bottom. We cheated and sort of propped it with our stick. Here you can see it sticking out a little bit to show what the pre-oxidized color looks like but for the dying, we kept it completely submerged. You can also squeeze and manipulate the fabric with your gloved hands under the surface of the dye. This will help the dye get into those hard-to-reach places. The timing can vary...Anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the fabric and the depth of the blue you want to achieve. You can pull your piece out and let it oxidize and then put it back into the dye if you see fit. Note: the fabric ALWAYS looks darker when it is wet as I will illustrate with some pictures below.

Here is the hip bag before it oxidized. I put it in for about 10 minutes and let it oxidize and then put it in for an additional 10 minutes.

Here is our tote ready to oxidize! After your piece is finished oxidizing you can rinse it thoroughly with water ( We used a hose outside). Once it is rinsed you can remove your resist, in this case being the thread. Snip the ends and pull out the threads to reveal the pattern you have created!

Lay out your plastic sheet or garbage bag near your dye bath so you can lay out your pieces to oxidize. Pictured below are several pieces in various stages of oxidation. As the fabric oxidizes it will turn blue. This is fun and magical to watch much like a developing photograph in the darkroom. Flip each piece over to oxidize completely. If it isn't dark enough put it back in the dye for another round.

When you are happy with your results rinse the piece thoroughly (we used the hose outside) and remove the bindings. You might think that removing all of those rubber bands looks like a horrible task but it can be done very simply. Turn it rubber band side down and hold it inside your water basin. Pull the sides and the rubber bands will all pop off into the water. (You can scoop them up and use them for your next dying project!)

Here is the cotton yardage hanging in the sun.

It turned out so good! What should we make with it? So many choices!!!

Here is a close-up of some of the stitches not yet removed from the tote to show you the type of results you can get from this technique. It is a bit more subtle but a lovely organic watery design.

And here is our freshly dyed tote enjoying some sun on the clothesline! So pretty!

Here is the hip bag drying and readying itself for a summery fun outing! Maybe even personalize it with some enamel pins or patches!

And here is the zipper pouch ready to carry your favorite art supplies to the park for an art-making adventure!

The cotton yardage turned out so yummy we threw in one more piece. This was a quick mishmash of binder clips and such we had laying around. We randomly accordion-folded bits and clamped them down with the various clips. Plastic clips work best if you want to re-use them for more Shibori adventures because they tend to rust after this application. Check out the result below!

As promised, below and to the right is the same piece while it was still wet so you can see they know what to expect between a wet and dry piece. As you can see there is quite a difference.

Shown below are the results of the same technique on different types of fabrics. To the left is a double-layered gauze cotton and to the right is regular cotton. On the gauze, the circles came out more like diamonds! So fun!

Did you notice these wood masked pieces in the above picture? The process of folding and rubber banding or tying wood blocks to either side of the fabric is called "Itajime Shibori". Two rectangular masks come in Jacquard's Indigo Dye Kit. Be sure to accordion fold your fabric when doing this technique so the dye can get into all those cracks and crevices.

The results are pictured below in the first and fourth pieces hanging on the line. The first is the oval mask and the fourth is using the rectangle.

Shibori-dyed goodies make GREAT gifts! Look at this sweet little onesie! Shibori dye baby shower anyone? Maybe a matching blanket is in order! That cotton yardage is going to come in handy!

You can do these same prepping techniques with other dyes as well.

Check out these tie-dye kits at our shop:


for more dying adventures!

Thanks for checking out our post on Shibori! We do hope you thoroughly enjoyed it and you are ready to try out this rewarding dying process yourself! As always, check out our shop online or if you live in Portland, stop by in person when you are ready to get some supplies! Enjoy that sunshine Portland!!


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