Over the past year, I’ve been exploring the practice of shibori, a Japanese dyeing technique where—through folds, stitches, and resistance—you can create patterns. As a result of all these explorations, I amassed quite a collection of dyed fabric with no plans for how to use it. Each day this week I will share one DIY for how I used my shibori fabric in the hopes that it might spark an idea or two for you.
I first learned shibori by taking a class with The Field Trip Society taught by Francine Moo-Young of Moo-Young. Francine is an expert at shibori, creating her own trademark by dyeing leather with the technique. By contrast, I’m a complete novice that chooses pre-packaged kits (like this or this) and unplanned exploration as my preferred method. I like the freedom of the exercise almost more than the outcome. Spending a day in the backyard, experimenting with different folds, tending to the dye vat, and eventually unbinding the fabric to see how it turned out, is a lovely escape. It forces me to take time and attention away from other digital and modern distractions and instead tend to the slow craft of resistance dyeing. It helps me appreciate the beauty in imperfection and the surprise of not quite knowing how it’ll turn out. Sometimes it’s a total flop – like when I used red Rite dye and after washing it, it turned to pink. And, sometimes, it turns out better than I could have imagined.
If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. It’s very easy to start, especially if you use my preferred method of kits and experimentation. At worst, you’ll end up with pretty dish rags and at best a lovely piece of fabric that can be turned into something more treasured. Check back this week to see the different ways I’ve used my favorite fabric pieces.