Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Here is the follow-up with the results from my second day of fabric dyeing. I was interested in trying a Japanese technique called Shibori. This is a resist dye technique that uses string or thread to create areas where the dye is not able to penetrate. The result leaves a unique design in the fabric. I tried two types of resist – string wrapped around a tin can, and basting lines of thread across fabric. My results matched the samples that came with the directions I followed at the Rit Dye website and on Quilting Arts TV.


Here are the results of the dyeing. The fabrics in the first picture were dyed using the string & tin can method, while the fabrics in the second picture were dyed using the hand stitched method. The third picture shows the purple hand stitched fabric as it was drying on the grass outdoors. I will review the two techniques below, with pictures taken during the process.

The first technique called for a large tin can. To begin, I folded a fat quarter size piece of muslin around a tin can. Then, a piece of string was wrapped around the center of the can and knotted, leaving about a 3″ tail. The string was tightly wound around the can from the center to the bottom of one side of the can. After winding the string around the can a few times, the fabric was scrunched toward the center of the can, then more windiing and scrunching, until the end of the fabric. The string was wound a couple times around the can to get back to the center, then the entire process was repeated with the other side of the can. Finally, the string was wound back to the center and the end knotted together with the initial 3″ tail. I neglected to take pictures of the wrapped tin can before it was dyes, but the following are pictures of the tin cans after the fabrics were dyed.


Here is one of the fabrics created from this process. You can see that the dye did not penetrate through all the fabric.  I tried using less string, thinking that the string was not allowing enough dye to penetrate to the extra fabric, but there was not enough string to create the design. Each of my fabrics created this same look, so the folds in the fabric were the real issue. I plan to use a larger tin can the next time that I do this, so that the fabric does not have to be folded.


The second technique used thread to create areas of resist. I tried this process following the instructions that follow, but modified the stitching process for further fabrics. Instructions indicated drawing chalk lines 1-1/2 inches apart on the long side of the fabric. Then, basting stitches were sewn along each chalk line. Last, the basting stitches were pulled up, creating a fan fold affect, and the threads were knotted. Here are pictures of this process.


The fan fold created by the stitching creates creases in the fabric that do not take the dye, causing the resist. The preparation process is tedious, so I decided to try it by fan folding the fabric without the basting stitches, then using a large upholstery needle to pull thread through the layers. It took a lot less time and the effect was the same. Check out these photos of the fabric being dyed.


All the fabrics are placed in water and the excess squeezed out, before applying the dye. In this technique, the dye is squirted from a bottle along the folds. The fabric is turned over and dyed on the other side, as well. Then, a second dye is squirted along folds. Different effects are obtained depending on how much dye is used and the area of crossover where the two colors meet, creating a secondary color. There can be many combinations within the cloth. One of the fabrics that I dyed was made by using up all the extra dye in the squirt bottles, so that a rainbow of colors was created.

So, there is the process for creating your own Japanese Shibori resist dyed fabrics. I really enjoyed the process of making the different designs in the fabric, and learned a lot about using dyes. I hope to make this into a regular event, creating fabric to use in my quilts. Maybe you will consider trying this technique, as well.

Happy Dyeing!


Comments on: "Shibori Fabric Dyeing" (1)

  1. […] Last Winter, I read a little about dyeing fabric with snow. The idea sounded interesting, but I was planning to try my hand at other types of fabric dyeing. So, I spent a few days in the summer trying some resist dyeing techniques, namely low water immersion and shibori. You can read about these attempts HERE. […]

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