Sunday, June 20, 2010


Fabric knotted, tied

Fabric twisted and wound on pvc pipe

Fabric hand stitched and gathered

Dyeing in the yard



An article in Quilting Arts mentioned the availability of an Indigo Dyeing Kit through Dharma Trading Company. I got together with my five partners in textile insanity and we decided to give it a try.
The kit was inexpensive, around $11.00, and contained everything needed to make the dye vat plus good instructions both on mixing the dye and shibori dyeing possibilities. There were blocks of wood and rubber bands and even one vinyl glove. Mmmm, not sure what one would do with one glove since part of the dyeing process is to sink your fabric packet under the surface of the dye and squish the dye through it. Two gloved hands are pretty important! Of course, you can also wrap fabric on poles and dip in the dye.
The interesting part is when you pull your fabric out of the vat it is various shades of green. Within seconds it starts turning blue - has to have oxygen to produce the blue color.

The last picture shows some silk I dyed while the previous one was cotton. The silk took the dye beautifully and has a lovely sheen. Another picture shows a green scarf - this was the result of overdyeing a bright yellow silk scarf.  All of us dyed some silk scarves with the indigo - they are gorgeous.

I don't know how long the vat will last, i.e., turn the fabric blue. In southwest Missouri we are experiencing lots of heat. The instructions mention keeping the vat in temperatures less than 86 degrees. Mine is in the garage and has to be way over that limit. But today, on the fifth day after preparing the dye, it is working fine.

Things to note: this is much simpler than using Procion MX dyes. You dip the damp fabric in the vat for a moment or two, set it on some plastic, and when it turns blue you can rinse it out and launder it or give it a quick wash in the sink with a little dishwashing liquid. Another note to those of you who hate icky smells - when you mix the chemical pack with warm water it stinks to high heavens! I haven't had a perm in several years but the stink factor was similar to that but way more intense. When I do this again, I will mix the chemicals outside. There was no warning about wearing a mask so it apparently isn't toxic but I don't want to be exposed to that intense smell again. One more thought - while you are working with the fabric you have dyed, keep those gloves on. Even when you are rinsing and have most of the loose dye out, it will still turn your fingernails blue.

This was a fun experience. Now I just have to decide what to do with all my blue fabric.


Lisa in Penna said...

Very neat - a good survey of the process. Thank you! - Lisa

Janice Paine-Dawes said...

That's some gorgeous fabric Roberta! I'll have to see if I can find the kit and give it a try with my quilt group.

Art by Rhoda Forbes said...

Roberta, the results are just beautiful. I too read about that kit, now I might have to order one :)

Judy Ferguson said...

Wonderful color results. Can't wait to see these at guild meeting. Can't wait to see what you all do with your fabric.

Cheryl said...

I always wanted to try this. Thanks for the encouragement. Your pieces are gorgeous. said...

Roberta.....always fun to see what comes out on fabric after dyeing. Love yours!
Chris Predd

Virginia Greaves said...

Cool! I saw a woman indigo dyeing at a festival recently & have really wanted to try it. The kit sounds perfect! I'll have to order myself some for my birthday. Thanks for sharing!

Jan said...

Neat pieces and looks like a FUN day! Wish I lived closer to you to join in the fun.

Linturn said...

I read the same article and wished I had the courage to try it. Your results are really impressive!

norma said...

Really yummy results! I wanna come and play at your house!

Leigh-Anne Crooke said...

Wow - looks like you had fun and the dyed fabric is wonderful. Indigo dying is something I'd like to try sometime

WesternWilson said...

What's not to love about indigo! I am inspired! I have been wanting to make a silk kimono for myself, and now I just HAVE to shibori indigo dye the silk myself! Thanks for this post and do show us what you finally did with some of your indigo fabrics.