Experiments with Color and Shibori

I’ve been posting about hand dyed fabrics quite a bit recently. Hopefully you are all enjoying that in addition to the recipes. I’m enjoying sharing my food and crafting adventures with you! Hand dyeing is my newest crafting love. It’s just so fun creating your own fabric, and I love the surprise of seeing how it turns out!

I just finished my latest batch which was mostly an experiment with mixing color. I recently ordered some charcoal gray, a bright fire red, and a navy blue. The pure dyes (and some of the mixed ones) tend to be fairly bright, so I wanted to trying toning them down a bit. I accomplished this by mixing pure colors together and also mixing them with charcoal gray.

Cool Tones

We’ll start with the cooler tones. In the photo above, the fabric all the way to the left is charcoal gray by itself. The second from the left is an olive green, which was a mix of blue, yellow, and tiny bit of red. Oddly enough, when I was rinsing this one out the water ran a deep purple. The fabric must have absorbed most of the yellow and left more blue and red behind. The third from the left I honestly can’t remember what I mixed together to create that color, but I bet it was a mix of yellow, blue, and charcoal gray (I need to keep better notes!) The one all the way to the right is a chartreuse green created by mixing yellow with a tiny bit of turquoise.

Warm Tones

And now on to the warmer tones. The fabric all the way to the left is fire red by itself. It turned out very bright, but a truer red than the fuschia red I used last time. The second from the left is fire red with charcoal gray. The third from the left is orange with a little yellow and charcoal gray. The one all the way to the right is mostly yellow with a little orange and a little charcoal gray. One thing that I noticed about a lot of the fabrics was that they have little speckles of other colors. I haven’t had this happen with other batches. This could be caused by the dye not being mixed up enough, or it’s possible that a little bit of the red dye got into some of the other dye baths. It’s not a bad effect necessarily and I’m sure it could be the perfect texture for certain things, but it’s not what I intended.

Shibori Circles

Last, but not least, I also experimented with shibori. Shibori refers to a variety of Japanese techniques including folding, wrapping, binding, stitching, and other ways of manipulating fabric to create patterns when dyeing.

Stitched Circles

I specifically tried the technique of stitching fabric using a running stitch and then cinching it up tightly. I just free form stitched circles following staggered spacing in rows. I cinched up each circle and tied off the thread before dyeing the fabric in navy blue. The photo above shows what it looked like after I stitched the circles. The photo below shows what it looked like after cinching the circles.

Cinched Circles

I’m really happy with the results of the concentric circle fabric! This was somewhat time consuming and a little challenging (of course that means I loved it!) The toughest part was cutting the stitches out after the fabric was dyed and dried. They’re cinched so tight it’s a challenge to snip the threads without cutting the fabric by accident.

Shibori Circles

The other didn’t turn out quite as well. I think I made the stitched design too intricate. You can see that the patterning did not show up in the center medallion except for the zig zag circle. The other mistake I made was using the wrong thread. I tried using cotton quilting thread, which is not strong enough to be cinched up without snapping frequently. Once I switched to a thick thread for sewing denim it went a lot smoother.

Shibori Zigzag

The circles around the outside were created by bunching up a little bit of fabric and wrapping thread tightly around it. I like the way these turned out. I will definitely be trying out more stitched shibori, and I look forward to using these fabrics to make quilts, pillows, and lots of other crafty things!

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Hand Dyed Fabrics – The Results!

My first round of hand dyed fabrics are finally ready! It’s fun to see how they all turned out with lots of surprises along the way. For the first batch, I decided to just use the colors as they came without mixing any of the dye powders together. I wanted to get a sense of what they look like on their own. They turned out pretty bright. Some of them are probably brighter than I would actually use in a quilt. It’s good to see how the pure colors look, and next time I will try mixing some to see what new colors I can get.

I can tone some of them down by over-dyeing. I will also use some of them to try out wax resist and then over-dyeing. What you’re seeing here is a middle step of the process. Most of the fabrics will look different in their finished state, but there are a few that I’ll leave the way they are now. I made little notes on each photo, so if you scroll through the gallery you can get more info about each fabric.

The blues took a really long time to wash out. They’ve been soaking for a couple days now and have been through multiple washes. The other colors washed out a bit easier. What this means is that I probably used a bit too much dye for the amount of liquid, although I was relatively conservative with the dye (so I thought!). Next time I know I can probably get away with a little less dye.

This is an experimental process, so there will be a lot of trial and error in figuring out colors and patterns. There’s only so much you can do to control the process, but that makes it fun. You never know what you’ll get when you unwrap your bundle of fabric, and you can always keep changing it until you’re happy with the result!