A couple months ago, Stephanie (of Swoodson Says) put out a call for participants on a Shibori Dyeing Blog Tour. Now, I’ve never dyed a thing in my life, but that didn’t stop me from signing up and reassuring myself that it would be “quick and easy”.
Whenever you tell yourself something is going to be quick and easy, alarm bells should start ringing. Ignoring them, I ordered my dye kit (I used this one from Amazon), some appropriate fabrics, and set it aside in my mind.
Four days before my scheduled spot on the tour, I blithely opened the box, and started reading the “manual” that came with it. It seemed there was a bit more to it than I had originally planned….things that involved precise timing, ingredient mixing, and complicated-looking folding techniques. Panicking, I texted a dear friend, who is the goddess of all things crafty and artistic, and begged for her help.
She arrived the next day with enough food to feed our combined army of children, more supplies (that I didn’t even know I needed!) and lego sets to entertain the kids while we worked. Whew! I was saved! She gave me a few tips and a bit of reassurance, which allowed my inner (sometimes not-so-hidden) control freak to take a back seat and enjoy the process.
After that it was FUN! The kids got in on the dyeing by rubber-banding their t-shirts, and a few were even brave enough to stick their hands in the vat.
Pretending they are “beards”
After waiting a few hours, we unwrapped our projects and admired the unique designs! I was amazed by the patterns that were created, and the kids were excited to have designed their own shirts! We even snuck in a bit of chemistry as we taught the kids why the green liquid changed to blue when exposed to the air.
While I planned to make several items for the tour, my sewing machine went belly-up right after we finished, so I was limited to my coverstitch and serger for construction. I chose the free Green tee by Greenstyle Creations (made before here and here), and sized up for a slightly more relaxed fit.
I also shortened the sleeves by 2″.
I just love how the lines in the fabric radiate out from the shoulder, and I know this tee will join its brethren as a staple in my wardrobe.
I even got the V- neck in one try this time! Winning!
Each of the kids also got their own t shirt (I didn’t make these….I was trying to strike a balance between slow fashion and a six/one year old attention span)
The dye vat lasts for several days, so I ran out and got some more fabrics to dye, and enjoyed a second round! I’m hoping I get my sewing machine back soon so that I can sew them up- that beautiful challis is destined to be a pair of Ravenna Wrap Pants (Designer Stitch) or a Trevi Dress (Hey June).
I did notice that some of the colors faded after washing- I’m not sure if this is typical, or if there is something I could have done differently in the process to retain the vivid blue hue that appeared right after unwrapping.
If you’ve never done shibori dyeing before, I highly recommend giving it a try. Here are some tips based on my first experience:
- Wear LONG RUBBER GLOVES. Don’t use the dinky little ones that come with the kit- you’ll be sorry. Use the industrial kitchen cleaning ones, or OBGYN gloves, if you have those handy. You do NOT want this on your hands, unless you like the “blue man group” look
- Pre wash your fabrics. I couldn’t find this specific instruction anywhere, but I like the colors in the pre washed items better.
- Be prepared for an all day event. It takes time to mix and cultivate the dye, prepare your fabrics, let them oxidize, and wash and dry them again.
- The baby WILL try to dump random things into the dye bucket while you’re stirring. Have another person handy to keep her from turning everything within reach (including your phone) blue.
- Enjoy the process! While it’s fun to create precise looking folds, my t shirt was made from the last piece of fabric I folded, when I was tired of being careful and just randomly started rubber banding it. It’s one of my favorite pieces! So don’t stress about doing it exactly “right”- just have fun!
- Buy lots of fabric to dye. You’ll want to do it again and again, and nothing will be safe (including your husband’s tighty whities)
Now, you might be sitting there thinking, this sounds fun, but wouldn’t it just be faster to run to the mall? Or to pick up a pre-dyed shirt from the Farmer’s Market? Yes, it certainly would. However, similar to canning your own jam, or caring for chickens so you can have your own eggs, the process of dyeing and sewing your own clothing is satisfying in a way that no trip to the mall could ever be- it’s the feeling of getting your hands dirty (or blue, in this case) and having a strong connection to the item you’re wearing. I’ve heard this called “Slow Fashion”.
Every time I wear my tee, for example, I’ll think of the afternoon spent in the sunshine, surrounded by friendship, laughter and child-directed chaos. It will warm my heart, and THAT feeling, is absolutely worth the extra time and effort. There are many other reasons to dye, and sew your own clothes, but this always remains at the top of my list.
Happy Shibori Week! Here are some more photos that show off our creations!
Don’t forget to check out all the other awesome bloggers on the Tour for Shibori Indigo Dye Week!
Sarah at Sewing with Sarah – Shibori Top
Stephanie at Swoodson Says – Shibori Kit Review
Katie at Creative Counselor – Shibori Shift Dress
Sara at Radiant Home Studio – Shibori Zipper Pouch
Vicky at Vicky Myers Creations – Shibori Scarf
Stephanie at Swoodson Says – Shibori Blanket
Maryanna at Marvelous Auntie M – Shibori Bag
Ula at Lulu & Celester – Shibori Clutch
Laurel at My Heart Will Sew On – Shibori Maxi Skirt
Agy at Agy Textile Artist – Shibori with Mango Leaves
Stephanie at Swoodson Says – Shibori Curtains
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy an item using my link, a small portion of that purchase goes back to me (at no cost to you) so I can buy more things to dump in my dye bath! Thanks!