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I love hand dyeing fabrics and shibori dyeing is one of my favorites. As I watch the season changing, I realize that I haven’t taken advantage of the nice summer weather and very soon I may not be able to dye outdoors this year. And also my interview with Surface Design Artist, Carol Eaton, last week was so inspiring that I wanted to go dye. So this week, I made time to play with dye. Well knowing how much I love to share with you, you shouldn’t be surprised I decided to write this shibori dyeing tutorial for you. It’s basically a visual guide to arashi shibori. I hope you’ll have as much fun shibori dyeing as I do. So here goes.
What is Shibori?
Shibori is a Japanese style method of hand dyeing that is based on using resistance to prevent the dye from going to specific areas of the fabric. This results in cool patterns. Arashi Shibori is done by using poles to resist the dye. For this reason, arashi shibori is also called pole-dyeing. In this shibori dyeing tutorial, I’m going to do arashi shibori. So let’s get started.
Supplies Used in This Shibori Dyeing Tutorial
- Cotton fabrics, (PFD or scoured with mild detergent)
- Procion MX Reactive Dyes
- Synthrapol (I substitute with DAWN dishwashing detergent)
- Measuring spoons, cups
- PVC pipes (2″ wide and 12″ to 16″ long)
- Tall containers for holding PVC pipes (plastic soda bottles with tops cut off)
- Rubber bands
- Protective Gloves
- Dust mask
- Paint brushes, sponges (optional)
Step 1: Cut and Wrap Fabric Around Pole
Cut your cotton fabric. I usually use 1/2 a yard or 1/4 yard pieces. Larger than that and it will be difficult to wrap around this size pole. (You’ll need a wider diameter pole for larger fabric pieces). I start by laying the pole at a diagonal on one end of my fabric.
Then roll the fabric around the pole. Keep it taut but not too tight. You want to be able to slide the fabric later.
Keep rolling the fabric around the pole (keeping it taut) until it’s all completely rolled. Notice the fabric extends beyond the pole. That’s o.k.
Step 2: Scrunch and Secure Fabric
I firmly place one hand at each end of the pole. Then starting from the bottom end to the other, (I start with my left hand), I twist the fabric in one direction, scrunching it up the pole towards my right hand. Remember that to start with, the fabric extends beyond the pole. Hold onto the end of the pole to twist the fabric, not the end of the fabric.
Twist and slide the fabric up the pole till you clear the bottom of the pole
After you have cleared the bottom of the pole, secure with rubber bands. You don’t want your fabric sliding off the pole.
Repeat the same scrunching process. This time start from the top towards the bottom (or from you right hand towards your left hand).
Again, secure the top part of your scrunched up fabric with rubber bands
Phew!!! all done with scrunching and securing. Repeat for the rest of your fabric pieces.
You may want to do this part the night before, in preparation for dyeing the next day.
Step 3: Insert Wrapped Poles Into Dye Bath
Now onto the wet part of the shibori dyeing tutorial. Remember to follow good safety guidelines. Wearing protective gear (dust mask, gloves), mix your dye solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I like to mix different dye concentrates and save them in my dye refrigerator for later use. This way I don’t have to handle dye powder each time I want to dye fabrics.
Now pour your dye solution into your tall containers (I use soda bottles, yogurt tubs, club-size snack containers … just start looking out for tall containers). Then insert your pole-wrapped fabric into your dye baths.
Some folks will add soda ash at this point. I wait an hour or so before adding soda ash. Then I let the fabric sit in the dye bath for about 4 hours. After that, you rinse the dye out, wash with synthrapol or a substitute, and then rinse again. Dry and iron the luscious fabric you’ve just created and get ready to design with it.
An optional step follows from here. You only need to continue if you want to try multicolored shibori fabrics.
Shibori Dyeing Tutorial for Creating Multicolored Fabrics
Now, since I wanted to play some more and create multicolored dyed fabrics, I took this route. In Step 3, soon after I’d added soda ash, I pulled out some of the poles and hand-painted with different dye concentrates.
I then wrapped the pole in plastic to keep it moist and warm.
Now set aside to let the dye fix for a couple of hours (about 4 hours)
Here are some of the fabrics I got.
So here you have it, a photo-guided shibori dyeing tutorial. If you already hand dye but haven’t tried shibori, you should check it out. If you’ve never tried hand-dyeing, I made this tutorial very simple just for you. Yuu can download a free PDF copy too. Let me know how you make out when you try it.
Questions: Do you hand dye your fabrics? Why or why not? Can’t wait to join you in the conversation below.
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