End of Summer Projects with Hand Dyed Fabrics

Summer is winding down and it is time to share my last two summer sewing projects. Fall is just around the corner, I even have my first fall project on the cutting table, and what better way to end the summer than with items that can transition into the next season! Perfect for the September weather that can still be warm but very unpredictable.

If you have been following along with our summer projects you know that we have been experimenting with shibori indigo dyeing. It’s time to finally cut into one of these stunning pieces! Since its release earlier this year I have had my eye on Christine Haynes’ Lottie pattern which is the perfect pattern for my hand dyed linen/rayon blend.

Christine Haynes' Lottie Pattern

Christine Haynes’ Lottie Pattern

With eighteen different combinations included in the Lottie, I decided to go with the a hybrid of View A and B- with three-quarter length sleeves in the shorter top length. Based on the pattern measurements I went with a size eight, although I did decide to lengthen the body by three inches at the given lengthen/shorten line.

The pattern was really fast to prep and cut out with only seven pieces, four of which are for the lengthened sleeves. I did take some extra time to really think about the shibori design on the fabric and how I wanted to feature it on the finished garment. For the sleeve pieces, especially, I chose to highlight some of the richest indigo streaks.

Lottie Top- Closer Look at the Side View

Lottie Top- Closer Look at the Side View

Construction took no time at all, start-to-finish my Lottie was done in one evening (less than three hours). Complete with top stitching, under stitching and hemming for an amazing result! I am especially loving the side vents and pieced sleeves- the perfect added touch and Christine made them so easy to sew.

Completed Lottie Top

Completed Lottie Top

The combination of the abstract shibori pattern with the gorgeous texture of the linen/rayon create the perfect distressed look- casual but refined. Great drape and body but still has that soft, wrinkly texture of linen. I also love the length, not quite tunic length but just long enough to hit about mid-hip on my 5′ 9″ frame. I’m already dreaming about another version in a soft flannel for this fall!

One More Look- Back of Lottie Top

One More Look- Back of Lottie Top

Last but not least, my Stowe Bag from Grainline Studio and The Fringe Supply Co! I originally dyed this white twill with this bag in mind. It has been on my “To Make” list for a while now just waiting for the perfect fabric. Again, I took my time planning out the pieces before I actually cut into my dyed fabric.

Hand Dyed Shibori Stowe Bag

Hand Dyed Shibori Stowe Bag

Another quick sew, although I did make the whole project much more labor intensive by deciding to finish all of the seams using the Hong Kong finishing method. Extra work, but totally worth it! It really helps finish off the professional look of the bag and doesn’t try to compete or take away from the star of the show, the shibori. I also decided to finish the bias binding around the top edge to the inside, again shifting the focus back to the dyeing and fabric.

Sneak Peak Inside the Shibori Stowe Bag

Sneak Peak Inside the Shibori Stowe Bag

This size is perfect for a trip to the market or to bring your hand sewing or knitting project along with you for the day. I might even have enough extra of my shibori dyed twill to make one more small Stowe if I cut carefully. I definitely want to try making the larger size as well, maybe in some suiting or denim for a great fall carry-all purse. What do you think?

Shibori Stowe Bag- Side View

Shibori Stowe Bag- Side View with Looped Handles

Well that wraps up my summer sewing! Time to shift gears and start planning for my favorite season- FALL!!! We have so many amazing fabrics arriving and lots of plans coming later this month, including the Fall Style Blog Tour!

-Michelle

 

How To: Shibori Dyeing Large Pieces

As I continued to experiment with shibori dyeing I began to wonder how to approach dyeing large pieces of fabric. In our last post I shared a variety of dyeing techniques each resulting in a very unique look, but all of my pieces were quite small- about 14″ square. While small pieces like this are great for napkins, pillows or patchwork, they aren’t so great for garment making!

Line Drying Shibori Pieces

Line Drying Shibori Pieces

In thinking about taking on larger pieces for garment sewing I figured there are two ways to approach it- 1) dye the finished garment or 2) dye the yardage required for the garment I want to make. Either seem like a valid approach and I can think of advantages and disadvantages for both.

After pondering it a while, I settled on dyeing the yardage. While this will produce a bit more waste, use more dye and be a bit harder to handle, I will have more control of the overall outcome of the piece. It is easier to manipulate and anticipate what will happen at large rectangle rather than a finished top or dress. Right? You can also then fussy cut your garment pieces from the larger fabric giving you more control to your finished look as well.

Time start planning fabric and pattern choices! I, of course, started with the fabric and may have gone a little overboard by picking five very different fabric types. The natural indygo dye kit that I am using calls for natural fibers- preferably plant based- so rayon, linen, cotton, bamboo, etc. Since I wanted to make a variety of projects I selected on the following: a more structured cotton twill, a drapey linen/rayon blend and a soft tencel/cotton shirting all in white/vanilla (it is shibori after all!).

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I also picked a couple of reach fabrics, choices that are a bit less conventional. The first is a white-on-white printed gauze, I wasn’t sure how the synthetic printing would react but I thought I would give it a try. The second is a cotton/silk blend– the manufacture of my kit says silk may not react well in the dye vat due to the basic environment. I figured, the blend is more than 50% cotton and the results will be amazing if it works so why not?

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For pattern choices I was mostly thinking about tunics and tops and settled on dyeing 2 to 2-1/2 yards of each piece except for the twill, which I only dyed 1 yd. I did’t finalize my pattern choices ahead of time because I wanted to see how each piece turned out and pick the pattern to really show off the stunning shibori designs.

Now let’s get to the fun part- methods and results! I decided to dye each piece differently and chose the technique based on what I thought would look best with that particular fabric.

1) Japanese Tencel Shirting + Mokume Shibori (Stitched)

This was probably the most time intensive piece to prepare. With two yards of 45″ wide fabric, we marked a 1″ grid across the entire piece using a washable fabric pen. My mom then spent an entire afternoon stitching each of the rows (thank you mom)! Based on the results of our test run, I knew the basting stitches needed to run selvage to selvage so that the resulting lines would run the length of the fabric.

Once all the stitches were in place, I pulled each of the strings gathering the fabric up and tied them off. This gave me a 72″ long snake of gathered fabric that was actually pretty easy to maneuver in the dye vat. After a series of dips, I rinsed the piece and began popping the strings to open it up. I didn’t wait for the piece to dry completely because I wanted a more fluid look and the results were amazing!

Stitched Mokume Shibori with Japanese Tencel Shirting

Stitched Mokume Shibori with Japanese Tencel Shirting

I have no idea yet what I want to make with this pieces but I love how this technique and the fabric paired together. This tight stitching method looks amazing with lighter weight fabrics where you can gather it easily and tightly. We used a 1″ grid, but I would love to see what a larger grid and stitches would do- similar look but wider lines and more indigo, maybe?

2) Radiance Cotton/Silk + Kanoko Shibori (Bound)

For my cotton/silk blend I was thinking a soft camisole and thought large bursts would be really interesting. I settled on binding it with rubber bands as I liked the bolder lines and patterns it created in our trial.

I randomly started pinching bits of fabric and binding it with rubber bands. It was incredible how small 2 yards of fabric can shrink into in a matter of a few minutes! I just kept binding until there wasn’t any fabric left to grab.

Prepared Cotton/Silk and Linen/Rayon Pieces Ready to Dye

Prepared Cotton/Silk (Right) and Linen/Rayon (Left) Pieces Ready to Dye

Again, I used a series of dips to get the density of dye that I wanted and untied it before it dried. I love the randomness of the bursts and the variability in the indigo color. The subtle shine the silk gives the piece is really unusual and striking look as well.

Cotton/Silk

Bound Kanoko Shibori with Radiance Cotton/Silk Sateen

3) Linen/Rayon Blend + Itajime Shibori and 4) Cotton Twill + Itajime Shibori (Folded Resistance)

With the heavier fabrics I thought it would be easiest to use a folding technique and go for a larger geometric design. I had no idea how the folds would translate but decided to take the techniques I learned from before and apply them in a larger scale. Rather than 2 inch folds, go for 8 inch folds or whatever they would end up being.

For the linen, I accordion folded the fabric in eighths across the width of the fabric giving me a 2 yard giant fan. I then folded one corner up into a triangle and continued alternating the triangle fold from the front to the back across the entire length of the piece. Bound with 2 rubber bands, I ended up with a tight little triangle bundle (shown in photo above). When dyed I knew the edges of these triangles would be what would take on the most dye creating a triangle or diamond pattern.

Fold Resistance Shibori with a Linen/Rayon Blend

Fold Resistance Shibori with Linen/Rayon Blend

The results were a bit different from what I expected, I think because of the thickness of the fabric. There was also more white than I wanted in the final piece so I ended up over-dying the whole piece again to give it more a blue color. I love the resulting distressed look! P.S. Don’t ask how the fold pattern turned from the triangle/diamond print to squares, I have not idea but it still looks cool and totally unique! I’m dreaming of the Lottie Pattern for this piece (pattern from Christine Haynes), it will be fun to plan out where the pieces will go and what design elements to highlight.

For the twill I did a similar technique, a bit easier to do since the piece was only one yardm  and used the folding instructions included in the kit for a chevron pattern. The results gave me more of an arrow pattern, I think it could have used a lot longer in the vat to let more dye absorb, but I love the look. Perfect for the Stowe Bag I have planned for it!

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Folded Resistance Shibori with Cotton Twill

5) Printed Gauze + Dip Dyed

Rather than compete with the pattern already on this fabric, I decided to dip dye it as a whole piece and see what it looks like. The biggest challenge with this was keeping it as small as possible while still letting it flow and open up so that the dye would apply evenly. Remember the goal is overall, even coverage.

After a series of dips I ended up with this amazing indigo piece with great texture from the printed leaves. The printing took on less dye giving it a slightly lighter shade and produced a really cool effect.

Indigo Dip Dyed Cotton Gauze

Indigo Dip Dyed Cotton Gauze

So simple, but very impressive all the same. This will be perfect for a summer tunic or cover up! Light weight and airy and a beautiful shade of medium blue!

Each piece turned out better than I imagined. I thought dyeing larger pieces would be much more difficult. While they do take a bit more planning and have some limitations, it is so impressible to open up your two yard piece and reveal the amazing shibori pattern you created. I can’t wait to get sewing with these pieces- I think my linen/rayon Lottie will be up first. If you have any other pattern suggestions please leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you would make!

~Michelle

How To: Shibori Dyeing Techniques

Like me, you were probably captivated with tie-dye when you were a kid. Folding, tying knots, mixing colors and not knowing how it would turn out. This summer this childhood fascination resurfaced in the form of Japanese shibori. A trend that has popped up all over in fashion and home decor, indigo dyeing is everywhere and I can’t help but be in love.

Shibori Inspiration Pinterest Board

Shibori Inspiration Pinterest Board

While we have added a selection of ready-made shibori style fabrics to the shop, I really wanted to try my hand at dyeing my own. I started researching the art of shibori and discovered it truly is an art. Totally unlike your childhood tie-dye it is very meticulous and planned, there are specific techniques each used to produce a different look to the resulting piece. I decided to try my hand at some of these techniques to see what worked, what I liked and what I wanted to try in a larger piece.

Natural Indigo Dye Kit

Natural Indigo Dye Kit

To start I gathered my supplies. For the indigo dye I used the Natural Dye kit found in our shop and I prepared the dye vat using the detailed instructions provided. Not only does the kit come with the best all natural components/reagents, it also includes gloves, cotton string, wood pieces and a practice piece (amazing value)! For my test fabric I selected this fine cotton poplin that I pre-washed and cut into various size pieces (roughly 14″ square). With my dye vat ready, my fabric pieces and supplies at hand, I was set to prepare my pieces. I settled on trying out some traditional Japanese techniques and a couple less conventional styles. Here are my methods and results!

Shibori Techniques:

1. Kanoko (Tied/Bound Methods)

This technique covers a wide range of patterns and designs that are tied or bound using string or more common nowadays rubber bands. The combination of binding and folds prevents the dye from spreading and creates some amazing burst and ring patterns.


To start I tried the common burst design- pinch the middle of the fabric and bind however many times you would like, each bind creating a ring.

Comparison of Tied Dyeing (Cotton String vs. Rubber Bands)

Comparison of Tied Dyeing (Cotton String vs. Rubber Bands)

To add a little interest I experimented with the difference between using string (top) vs. rubber bands (bottom). Which do you prefer? I think I am leaning towards the rubber bands- a bit more of a statement, bolder lines.


I also experimented with folding the fabric first and then pinching and binding. In the piece shown below I folded the fabric in quarters and alternated binding portions on each side.

Folded and Bound Dyeing

Folded and Bound Dyeing

With this method I got lots of smaller burst in somewhat of a geometric pattern. A really cool all over pattern without a lot of work.


Last but not least for the bound methods I experimented with actually tying the fabric! I tied each corner of our sample piece and then decided to wrap tie the center. I pinched the center, secured a piece of string to the end and then wrapped the string up the fabric creating kind of a spiderweb look.

Knotted and Spiderweb Bound Dyeing

Knotted and Spiderweb Bound Dyeing

The knots were a little difficult to get out in the end, next time I might not tie them so tight. But the look is really fun and if you just tied the whole thing, no string or rubber bands required!


2. Itajime (Resistance Method)

This method uses objects to create resistance and prevent the dye from permeating the fabric creating crisp, bold designs. In our experiment I used the wood pieces and diamond pattern instructions included in our kit.


Pretty simple, you simply accordion fold the fabric in quarters and then accordion fold it in quarters again the other direction. Place a wood piece on either side of the fabric at an angle and tie them tightly together.

Diamond Pattern Resistance Dyeing

Diamond Pattern Resistance Dyeing

The results are really striking! Next time I might try some different shaped wood pieces or I have even see where people have used keys and other found items to create unusual designs. One tip I learned, for really crisp lines let the fabric dry completely before removing the wood pieces to prevent bleeding. Although the slight bleeding does give it more of a authentic look.


3. Nui (Stitched Methods)

Rather than binding the fabric on the outside as in the kanoko technique, this method uses various length basting stitches to create the gathers and designs. Pulled tightly these stitches create a different sort of internal binding that restricts the movement of the dye. I tried two different nui techniques, mokume and karamatsu, creating lines and bursts respectively.


For mokume, I created a 1″ grid of dots on our piece of fabric with a washable fabric pen. I then stitched the length of each “line” using various length basting stitches. When pulled tight these strings gather the fabric up into really interesting, intricate folds. Tightly secure each end of the string, trim and it is ready to dye.

Stitched Lines Dyeing

Stitched Line Dyeing

Looking at our sample above, the far right shows what happens when the basting stitches have the same length and placement creating more structured gathers. The left side is how it looks when the lengths are all random creating more of an organic look. Moral of the story- the more random the better! Use the grid as a guide to keep your lines nice and straight but change up your stitch length.


Karamatsu is a very similar technique just a slightly different style. For this I folded portions of the fabric and drew a series of half circles on the fold using the washable pen. I then stitched long basting stitches on each of the half circles, pulled the strings tight and secured them place.

Stitched Bursts Dyeing

Stitched Burst Dyeing

The result gave me these intricate bursts, much more detailed than the tied bursts we saw earlier. While these are rather small scale (about 4 inches across), can’t you just imaging them with 5 or 7 rings on a much larger scale!

By far, these stitched methods are my favorite- Sewing + Dyeing = Amazing!


4. Folded and Bound Method

Last but not least, I wanted to try another stripe method to compare with the mokume stitching technique. Really basic, I accordion folded the fabric in eighths, rolled it tightly and secured it with a rubber band.

Folded and Bound Dyeing

Folded and Bound Dyeing

Not as impressive as the mokume stitched lines but still a great look. I love how the dyed portions kind of have an ombre effect due to how it was bound.


Overall, I love how my first experiment in shibori dyeing turned out! It was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Although it does take some time (and patience is key!), it was a ton of fun and so exciting to see each result! Since finishing these I have dyed a few larger pieces, each a couple of yards, that I can use to actually sew up some garments. Watch for another post with all my lessons learned- same principles just on a much larger scale!

Until then, happy dyeing!

Michelle

P.S. Here are a couple other posts that you might find helpful! DIY Shibori and Seamwork’s Shibori Dyeing