Over the summer I was reading Issue 22 of my favorite magazine, Uppercase, and became utterly entranced with Indigo dyeing and I set out to learn as much as I could. Lucky for me there have been many centuries of experts sharing their wealth of knowledge, and modern-day masters who are kind enough to post videos online. At this stage of my learning I am at the skill level of a kindergartner, but on my bucket list now is to become skilled at the art of the Shibori technique (see video at the end of this post!). Even though I’m definitely an Indigo novice, I had a blast making Christmas gifts this year (SPOILER ALERT – to my family and friends reading this post).
There is so much to learn about dyeing with Indigo, and I don’t want to bore you with too much detail, but below are some tips I picked up through my experience. Hopefully they help you out too:
****** INDIGO DYEING TIPS & TRICKS ******
* Allow 2 full days in a row to dye (you can’t rush Indigo dyeing). There is a lot of prep and set up involved and for best results you want to make sure you’re not rushed.
* Plan to dye a lot of pieces. You’re going to have a huge Vat of dye to work with and once you get going you’re not going to want to stop. Also, make sure that you prewash everything you plan to dye (don’t cheat on this step – the desired end result really depends on working with clean and sizing-free fabric).
* Read cover to cover the information booklet and instructions/tips paperwork provided in the Indigo dye kit. I must confess that I often skim or overlook small print paperwork, but in this case I didn’t and I’m SO grateful for that! There is so much valuable information to learn and tips on how to avoid huge messes or mistakes.
* Find a corner of your yard or an open area to work in (if possible don’t do your dyeing inside your house). I watched one tutorial from a woman who lives in an apartment and did her dyeing in her bathtub. That is definitely possible, but I am afraid the dye would permanently stain my tub, so if possible do your dyeing outside. Also, take the time to fully set up your work areas before you dive into actually dying. Set up a table for a tying area and tarps on the ground where you plan to do your dyeing. I also set up my camping clothesline across the back of my yard to hang all the pieces to oxidize. SIDE NOTE: The clothesline I used is now stained and I think I’m going to have to purchase a new one before we go camping again so I don’t have any indigo residual getting on our clothing. Nothing will go to waste, however, because I plan to store this clothesline, as well as the clothespins used, for the next time I dye with Indigo.
* Don’t use the gloves the kit provides (they’re too thin and tear easily) – I had the blue finger for a week to attest to that! A lot of the tutorials I watched on YouTube showed people using heavy duty gloves, but I actually found them cumbersome – especially if I needed to tie a section while the fabric was partially dyed. What I found worked best was to buy a box of latex standard gloves and layer two to three gloves on each hand. It allowed me dexterity in tying but also provided the protection from the dye.
* After your pieces are oxidized I left them outside for 24 hours before rinsing them with water and washing them. Plan to launder your pieces at least 4x times to insure you get all the excess dye out. No one likes to receive a gift that runs color the first time they wash it.
For more info, follow the links here for
where to order the best Natural Indigo Kit,
to read the instruction manual and learn about the amazing history behind the art of Indigo.
Check out this video on the Shibori Technique (love it!)
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