Saturday, August 9, 2014

Linen Baby Wrap Sekka Shibori Dye: Part 1

In the last year I have been learning about fabric dyeing and recently have been drooling over shibori dyed fabrics. What is shibori? In a nut shell it is a Japanese way of resist dyeing cloth where you fold, stitch, bind, twist and/or compress a fabric to give it a pattern. I have a whole pinterest board filled with fabrics one prettier than the other.

We are staying at my MIL's house while waiting to move into our own home, but I couldn't wait any longer to dip my hands in dye, so  I got a piece of 4ft long linen out. I had bought it from Fabric-store.com a couple weeks back to use for either a baby wrap, hand towels or pillow cases and had bought it specifically with shibori dyeing on mind. It's a mid weight linen, so I know that compared to dyeing thin silk fabrics the odds are against me, but wanted to give it a go none the less.

The pattern that I have most fancied is a hexagonal snowflake pattern. Sekka Shibori. There are examples one more beautiful than the other online and I'll just post a couple images picked from online so you get an idea.





To try to make this I figured out how to break the pattern down and fold it by looking at the repeat. I'll try to draw it to illustrate my thought process:


When folding you would fold on the red vertical lines first in an accordion fold. To fold the triangles you can do it two ways to get two effects. One is a square or diamond pattern and the other is a hexagon pattern.


Usually this method utilizes thin materials like silk, which makes the folding easier to handle and the dye to take more evenly. I am going to use this fabric for either a baby carrier or other utilitarian items, so my material is a mid weight linen. It was easy to crease when I accordion folded it, but time will tell how the dye job comes out. It might be very uneven because of so many layers of fabric.

***Disclaimer before getting to business - I am not an expert or professional at dyeing, this posting is just giving you the steps that I did based on my research and what worked/was available in my circumstances.

Prepping the fabric for dyeing. The linen was store bought new, so I decided to wash it hot once with detergent and Blue Dawn soap. It didn't look that much different, so I decided to wash on hot again with just Blue Dawn. Now I could definitely tell a difference, on just how much lint came off and the feel of the fabric. I had to do a second thorough rinse, with stopping in the middle to fluff it with my hands, to get more lint to come off. Then I dried it on low heat setting for a little bit until it was damp dry and ironed on top of that.

Since I had planned a wrap, I cut the fabric in half at this point and hemmed the unfinished long edges. Now I had two 4 yd long pieces to play with. As you know linen wrinkles fast, so by the time I was ready to fold it for dyeing, it was pretty wrinkly already. I first tried folding the strip in half and then again in half length wise, but felt that that would give me too large of a pattern so I decided to go the hard way and start folding on one edge for a smaller width. I took the closest thing available, Ikea catalog cover, and folded a template for myself so I'd know how much to fold over. In the below pictures you can see the first line being folder and creased with fingers. The template is peaking out a little at the bottom of the picture.


Here's a closeup of my fancy template.



After the first fold, I just carefully kept going with the pleats back and forth...


Everything accordion folded: 


After the whole thing was folded, I pressed it on the floor with an iron. From my template, I ripped a triangle that is even on all four sides and used that to start folding my triangles. I tried to iron in between each layer. 


The stack thickens really quick.


Less than half way through I realized this will not stay together as it gets taller, so I decided to tag the corners together with some contrasting thread (easy to pick off later hopefully). I stopped three times to sew, to keep the pile nice and tidy.


Whole 4 yards finished folding. Isn't it pretty!



When I plopped it on it's side everything lined up beautifully and the stack was very neat looking.



This folding process took several hours to do. So I'd recommend doing it without the kids around. It wasn't a perfect job, but I hope the dye will still look decent on it after all the work. Because this is so picture heavy, I am breaking the dye process into another post. The fabric is sitting with dye as I write, and the second half to this tutorial will follow as soon as I am done rinsing it off. :)

I am participating in a link party here.

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