Have you heard of Shibori dying? In the crafting world it seems to have become the ‘in’ version of the good old fashioned tie-dying that had a resurgence in the ’90s. In reality, originating in Japan, Shibori is one of the earliest examples of cloth dying. Known for the striking deep blue and indigo hues, it’s little wonder it has become so popular in recent years.
The best thing about this kind of dying process is there are infinite ways you can fold, twist, knot and clamp your cloth and each will create a wholly unique pattern. There is something immensely satisfying about unwrapping your dyed piece to reveal the hidden pattern. It’s perfect for those less crafty because there is no precision required. Just: Tie. Dye. Reveal! So easy! The downside of Shibori is that if you are using the proper powder, it can be a little pricey. But with a little sneaky short cut, you can get a similar result for a fraction of the price!
– Powder Dye in Indigo or hues of dark blue
– Plain white cotton or linen napkins (pre-washed)
– Rubber bands of various sizes and thicknesses
– Various flat objects to clamp around the napkins
– Plastic bucket
– Plastic gloves
1. Prepare an area to complete the dyeing. Your napkins will drip and splash so doing this outside is recommended. If you have pavement or flooring you are worried about coloring, make sure to put down drop sheets to catch the dye (preferably plastic).
2. Take each napkin, one at a time and fold, scrunch, wrap into shapes of your choice and tie rubber bands tightly around the napkins to secure. This is how you will get different patterns.
• Try folding into squares or triangles and securing in between two blocks of wood/firm Tupperware lids (using the plastic bands) for a more geometric pattern. The most inside folds will stay the whitest with the outside folds getting darker.
• Take a napkin from the middle and pull into a long ‘tee-pee’ shape. Rubber band along the length of the napkin to create rings from the center out.
• Rubber band sections at random and then tie the whole napkin into a firm knot.
TIP: Make sure your rubber bands are as tight as you can tie them and make sure you have thick areas of the napkins tied off. Use numerous rubber bands on one tie to ensure that you get some areas that the dye doesn’t reach. Remember the dye will seep under the bands in some areas so err on the side of ‘too many’ ties until you get the hang of the process.
3. Thoroughly soak your prepared napkins in water before starting. Your napkins should be completely wet.
4. Following the instructions on the dye packets, mix together the dye powder and water. Most dyes will require warm or hot water, so wear rubber gloves to protect hands from getting stained and to prevent burning your hands in the hot water.
Mix together in a bucket or container large enough to fit your napkins. Ensure to use plastic or stainless steel containers so they don’t become stained.
The trick to mimicking the deep indigo color of shibori is to mix dye colors. Aim for purples and dark blues (denim blue is always good). You want to get a nice dark shade of blue/purple. Remember, your fabric will come out lighter than the dye once it dries.
5. Submerge each napkin into your dye and allow to soak according to the packet directions. The longer you soak the darker your color will be. Remember: it will be lighter than it looks when it dries.
6. Remove the napkins from the dye and rinse under a cool running tap until the water runs clear. Check the depth of color. If it looks too light, place it back in the dye for longer to achieve a deeper shade.
7. Remove the rubber bands to reveal your patterns and hang out to dry.
8. Machine wash and iron (as they will be very crinkled from the bands) before using.
Dani (Craft contributor)
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