Tie Dye Madness (Shibori)


So it turns out that every adult can still have a ridiculously fun time tie-dying fabrics. (Oh I forgot, it’s not called tie dye when you’re an adult, it’s called shibori.) The art of Japanese resist dyeing. It involves folding, pleating and manipulating fabrics, then dipping them or submerging them in dye to create extraordinary patterns. Traditionally Japanese shibori is done with indigo dye. I decided to go less traditional and use bright colours since we have access to them, this would have been difficult over 1000 years ago.

My weekend was spent gathering cheap t-shirts until my friend pointed out to me (a textile graduate) that fabric has numerous applications other than just clothing e.g. cushions, bed sheets, tablecloths etc. So with my very clever friend, we set about in the back garden with our gloves, string, elastic bands and 50p wash bowls to dye some fabric.

This is really where our personalities showed. She was very careful and specific while dying certain areas of her fabric, using conscious, fashionable choices of colour, carefully knotting her fabrics in specific places. I however, stuck on some old clothes, put the gloves on (which didn’t work very well) and went all out.

Here is an insight to my brain process: I’ll just do one colour on this shirt so I can actually wear it, let’s use blue, hey what’s this? Let’s use purple too, Oh! look at that colour! Splash it on, might as well use this one as well. How is this pattern gonna turn out? Let’s tie it everywhere! Oh no the colour ran, better use another one so it looks like it was on purpose.   

The outcome? My friend has beautiful pillowcases to use functionally in her room, and I have a bunch of bright and colourful clothes to wear indoors and for exercising only, the result of getting too excited. The less crazy pieces were perfect to draw some designs over the top, these were actually wearable.

So what I’m trying to say is, give shibori a go. It’s super fun, super enjoyable and you get to waste an afternoon doing something a bit different. Whether it’s for one of a kind home interiors or just going crazy with colour on clothing, it is something that everyone must try. There are a range of different tutorials on the web and specific patterns for those who want to be more calculated in their designs (I prefer the mystery).

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