Shibori experiments


Hey, have you seen the new Papercut pattern? It’s the Clover Dress, designed by Brooke Tyson and featuring a flowy and romantic skirt and super cute details – bust panels and belt tassels included! It screams summer to me so I’ve bought it straight away and I’m getting ready for sewing my first version.

I wanted to use a swingy and drapey fabric, to let the skirt flow freely, and I knew a rayon blend viscose would be perfect for the job. Problem: it was white. I’m not mad about white dresses, therefore my fabric *needed* to be dyed.

Recently, I’ve seen heaps of handmade garments sewn up using shibori-style dyed fabrics and I really like their look, very fresh and summery, so I thought I could give this technique a go. And what’s the best color palette for summer if not the classic white and navy?

I’ve to admit it hasn’t been easy to decide which shibori method to use – there are quite a few out there, but just a couple I could really feel comfortable in trying. I chose the easiest (for me and for the supplies I had on hand) and decided to go with the Kumo technique, which involves pleating and binding sections of the fabric very closely and evenly, resulting in a spider-like design.

Here it is how I’ve done it. It’s the first time I dye fabric, so I’m not sure if this is a good method or not and how long my fabric will look good for, so if you have suggestions of any kind, please leave me a comment below and I’ll gladly ready it!

First I’ve washed my rayon viscose in the washing machine, to get rid of any chemical residue from the production process. Once dry, I’ve folded in a half, selvedge to selvedge, and ironed it.
To bind the fabric I’ve used rubber bands. I’ve tried to create a sort of pattern, tying more rubber bands in some areas so that the dye will soak completely the cloth in the areas left free from the binds.


Once happy with the rubber bands placement, I’ve wrapped everything with twine, in a sausage-like roll. I also cut off a piece of fabric to dye it in plain navy so I could use it as contrast for the neckline.


I then prepared my due bath, mixing two packets of Navy powder Rit dye and very hot water and I submerged my fabrics into it. After few minutes I’ve added a cup of salt and a tablespoon of laundry detergent, previously dissolved in hot water, as I found out, on the Rit website, they help getting a deepest and intense color. I’ve stirred occasionally the lot, but not too many times as I wasn’t aiming for a consistent color, but more a marble looking effect instead.



I’ve left the fabric into the dye bath for about one hour – basically until the water started cooling down. Then I’ve rinsed it first with warm water and then with cold.
Time to cut all those rubber bands and see what happened!


What do you think? I’m pretty happy with how my first try at the shibori technique turned out. I love all those shades of navy and the look of the spider webs too. The dye infiltrated gently into the fabric wrapped with rubber bands, getting lighter and lighter in color, leaving just the right amount of white around. I guess if I wanted more white areas I had to tie the rubber bands more firmly, but I’m glad I left a little of wiggle room for the dye to go in.


I’m sure it’s because of the color, but all those bubbles look like elegant jellyfishes floating in deep waters. And if you look attentively enough you can see a big face appearing as well. Kind of scary, isn’t it?


Lastly, I’ve washed everything with mild detergent in warm water and hung it to dry. The colors get slightly lighter when dry, but my navy blue is still very saturated and strong. Perfect.


I really enjoyed this dyeing process and I was dying to see the final result. Impatience is one of my qualities, ahah! Surely this is my first attempt at dyeing, but as I love playing with colors, I’m already planning some gradient experiments for the next time.
I’m off to cut my Clover Dress, did you buy yourself one yet?


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