A Dyed Garment – Ripped From the Catalogs!

I have been doing some dyeing, over the last few days and having lots of fun. Many of the projects I worked on did not come out as I had hoped, but this knit top “ripped from a catalog” is a winner. I had some ideas about what to do with a knit top I bought from Dharma Trading Company, but when I flipped through a catalog the other night, I found the perfect (and perfectly simple) design. I’ve been working on some examples of shibori and tie dye for the neighborhood ladies’ craft group. Tie dyeing is loads of fun, but perhaps not so wearable for us older ladies… Shibori techniques, on the other hand, can be quite elegant and examples of them are in all sorts of stores. This pattern is so easy; it’s the classic spiderweb (perhaps called kumo in Japanese?) and I always enjoy it. Here it is all tied up.

And here is the front….

And a side view…

And the back.

The color couldn’t have been simpler! It’s PRO Chem MX Fuchsia 308. I dribbled it into the pan until I liked the tint and submerged the t-shirt. The fact that it looks so nice on my mannequin means it won’t fit me now (she’s a size 10) but it’s a good Summer goal for me. ;-D



Itajime Shibori

with Cindy Lohbeck. I’m in Phoenix for an AQS quilt show, enjoying the lovely weather and the company of quilters.

Of course I know a lot about shibori and I have done some Itajime, or folded dyeing, but I thought it would be fun to take a class and play with others. {I really wanted to take her ice dyeing workshop, but it was at the same time as another class I’m taking – of course!} Since I teach dyeing myself and it is tricky in many locations, I was curious to see how Cindy would handle the need for lots of water and mess! And here is the answer – the whole floor had plastic on it and water was brought into the room in garbage bins!
Itajime classroom

On the table are the amazing kits that she puts together. She had lots of samples to show us and if you check out her website, you will find lots of information and all the supplies you could want for creating shibori on your own.

Cindy Lohbeck


Itajime shibori

It was just a three hour class, so Cindy kept things moving! We learned the different ways to fold the fabric and clamped a variety of shapes on them. The dye was applied with squeeze bottles because we had soaked the fabric in soda ash beforehand.

Dyeing shibori

This was my hotel bath tub last night. I needed to rinse and dry my samples in order to get them home – without getting blue dye on the towels or anything else it could dye.  Happily this morning all the samples were dry and ready to pack up.

Bathtub of shibori

More about this when I get home…

Shibori Surprises

It has been forever since I have dyed anything! I attended the very wonderful wool dyeing workshop at Pro Chem two Summers ago when we were moving and that’s been it. { FYI – Pro Chem has a lot of interesting workshops and you’d be learning from the best!} A year or so ago, I gave my friend Molly an IOU for a shibori class and finally decided that I needed to get to it. Most of the dyeing supplies are out in the garage and the first order of business was to get them out so that I could see what came with us. I did order dyes a few months ago, when I remembered that I threw all the MX dyes away when we moved.

So here are all the goodies I dug out of several storage bins for Molly to play with. On the computer I located my class notes from years ago when I was teaching shibori, reminding me of what I might show her.

Shibori goodies

I didn’t look at the clock much (too much talking!) but this is about 2 hours worth of stitching, clamping, knotting and folding ready to go in the dye baths.

Ready to dye!

Here’s Molly with some of her favorite samples. Aren’t the purples just fabulous? They came out well, but she was trying for an orange and got a coral instead. I have some new dye colors, as my usual go-tos seem to be gone and the yellow wasn’t doing much. Disappointing and it means I will need to do some dye experiments to find out the proper proportions for orange.

Molly's handwork

A day of handwork………there’s nothing like creating for the soul!

Molly's hands


Feathered Star Success!

Feathered star success!


The tiny feathered star top is done! The partial seam piecing wasn’t too bad and I only had trouble with one seam; the last one of course! I had to do what I always tell my students – only rip out three times. Because of the Fun-dation, it’s all quite square with no wonkiness. I could not have pieced such small half square triangles accurately without it.

It finished up at 10″ and then I added a bit of background around the star so that the points really show. I would have liked to have made the border of arashi shibori, but all the pieces I have are narrow, so I chose this bo maki fabric. There is a big hunk of it and there was plenty of room to fussy cut. I think it works well with the middle. Finished size, 17″.

Houston’s Ruby Show: Shibori Eye Candy!

I did not attend the IQA Show in Houston last year, due to our move and just being worn out; so this year was especially fun. I spent the days before the show opened taking classes and enjoyed each and every one.

It has been well over a year since I have dyed anything and I’ve been itching. (I don’t think the new kitchen will be great for dyeing, but sometime soon I need to figure out how to do it.) Shibori sort of dyeing techniques are my great love; I’ve been playing with them for years, so I jumped at the chance to take Glennis Dolce’s class : Shibori Mandala. This was the sight that greeted us as we came into the room – mind-boggling isn’t it?

Shibori Mandela Class

I talked with Glennis many years ago at an IQA show, and she told me that she’d been a potter and was looking for something else to create and discovered shibori. Many years later, she seems to be one of the US experts and does lovely work. She recently developed a stitched technique for making mandalas. I am not going to show you the process, as it is hers. We spent an interesting day dyeing antique kimono fabrics and here’s the one of mine that I like the best. I don’t use silk much, so I will be figuring out how to do this on cotton.

During class Glennis showed examples of a colleague’s work. His mandalas are evidently tied. His name is Richard Carbin and his blog is AsiaDyer.

Richard Carbin shibori

Aren’t these amazing designs??? The work Glennis was showing were scarves and shawls. I think I would hang them in a window as it would be a shame to scrunch them up. Glennis was a good instructor and full of great ideas.

Glennis Dolce with Richard Carbin design

I also took a half day workshop/lecture with Jo Packham, whom I knew from Where Women Create magazine. Her talk was about organizing a studio, but contained so much more information. She told us about the amazing professional journey she took to find herself as Editor of WWC, Where Women Cook and Where Women Create Business. If you have ever looked at one of the magazines, you know they are full of great photographs and ideas, and her slide show was a treat. So many studios with so many interesting and creative people working in them. If you are ever able to hear her speak, I would defiantly suggest you do.


Bo Maki Shibori

Let’s get back to some fiber! The Liebster nomination mentioned my great fiber blog, but it’s been anything but recently….

Isn’t this an odd-looking thing? It sat in the basement for over a year…… It looks like a cocoon doesn’t it? And it will turn into something wonderful!

Bo maki

I sewed and bound it as a demonstration during a class I was teaching and just never got around to dyeing it. When we were cleaning out the basement area downstairs, I spied it and decided that I had put too much work into it to toss it…

Dyeing fabric on pipes is a messy business and I do like to do it warmer weather. I park the bucket by the sewage drains in the yard so I can easily dump the dye water. {Buckets of water are so heavy!} While I was waiting for the Salvation Army truck to come and pick up some big things, I started the brew.

Dyeing in the yard

I was in a hurry, so I dumped some blue and magenta into the bucket, stirred it around and put the pipe in. Every now and then I moved the pipe around to stir the dye, but of course I generally want a mottled look so I don’t do it often.

Here’s the finished piece. The long stripes are the Bo Maki part. Can you can see a dark line between the two scrunchy parts? The fabric was folded there. Above and below the scrunchy lines, you can see the holes where I hand sewed the pleats or ruffles to the pipe and then gathered it. In the top photo you can barely  see that strips of bike tires are tied around the top and bottom of the fabric to keep it tightly gathered and on the pipe. I learned this interesting technique from Akemi Nakano Cohn, who called it Bo Maki. She is a fabulously talented fiber artist who spent years in her homeland of Japan learning dyeing techniques from masters. When I google that term, nothing like this comes up but I certainly believe her.

Completed bo maki

The wonderful floral bursts are marbles with rubber bands wrapped around them. They are so fun and easy! This fabric is now stuffed inside some box or other, wondering what it will be used for…

Shibori Kimono Collection

Because of Peter’s job with a US connector company, we lived in Asia for about 8 years. The last 4 years of that time we lived in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, next door to a Yakusa and down the street from some minor Royals. Every place that we lived or visited, I found new and wonderful textiles, paintings or china to collect. Everything is indeed very expensive in Japan, so I had to consider each purchase with care. The surprisingly inexpensive items to collect were kimono! As I think about it now, though treasures to us, used kimono are – used clothing! Just as I don’t hang the gown that I wore to the Christmas dance with Peter, the Japanese find it odd that we display their clothing. (Perhaps that’s why they were such a deal.) I lived very close by to a shrine sale (think garage sales on Sunday at a church) which happened once a month and I would walk down and hope for some great finds.

And now I must admit that I still collect kimono, though now I buy them on eBay and several Internet stores. This is my newest acquisition and I am absolutely in love with it. I call this sort of shibori, dotty, but the Japanese call it dots within squares. It is a bound technique; thread is twisted around a teeny tiny bit of the fabric to create the resist. This kimono is a whole study of how the dots can be combined to make other shapes.

The dyes are darker in some spots, as you can see on the sleeve, and lighter in others.

In this close-up of the back, you can see that the color disappears entirely, but there is still texture from the bound dots. Wow. Wow. Wow.

This kimono is also new. It is quite thin and I am wondering if it might be an under kimono. When dressing for a very fancy occasion, several kimono may be layered.

I was drawn to the shape of the resist on this kimono. In referring to a book I have about shibori, this looks like it is the larch shape. It is stitched on the outside and bound on the inside of the shape. Do you see that the artist left one oval blank? Love the asymmetry of that.

And finally, this is not a kimono, but a thin scarf that a woman uses to tie over her obi so that you can’t see any of the underpinnings. This is a favorite of mine. The fabric is blue silk and the artist wound what are called spider webs, or kumo in Japanese.

My collection rotates according to the season, my whim and what I may have just bought and looking at them inspires and delights me on a daily basis.

Focused on Shibori

On Friday, Eloise, Yolanda and Eula came for a class in shibori dyeing. What a day we had! They made some incredibly beautiful fabrics and were so intent on wrapping, clamping and tying that I could hardly get them to stop so that we could put the fabrics in the dyepots and eat lunch.

Yolanda used lots of marbles to make a beautiful piece of fabric which you can see further down the post.

Eloise brought some commercially dyed fabrics and got great results.

Like this – this fabric was a gold and was dyed with in the red violet  bucket – wow! Isn’t it amazing?

Eula wrapped and wrapped what I call spider webs…

…and look how lovely they are.

This is the front and back of a white on white print. Yolanda got a “two fer”. The white on white looks very Japanese to me.

Clamping always looks so dramatic.

And here’s the clean up at the end of the day. Isn’t this an interesting assortment of stuff?

Arashi Shibori Quilts

When preparing for my class the other day, I dug out some of the quilts I made when I was last dyeing these lovely fabrics. I don’t think my students will have trouble coming up with ways to use the fabrics, but many do. I find when people take dyeing classes, they feel very “precious” about their work. It’s even worse with any sort of shibori fabrics because you have taken a good bit of time to make a truly one of a kind fabric. I do not save tiny bits of commercial fabrics, but believe me, I save all my shibori bits!!! When thinking about quilts to make, what came to mind was plain Amish style quilts which would showcase the fabric. I wouldn’t do – say – a drunkard’s path or something with weird shapes which would waste my fabrics.

One difficulty I have is thinking of how to quilt them, as quilting is not my strong suit. For “New Age Nine Patch I”, I had to think of something to do in the plain blocks. I finally did a flower shape using a straight stitch, so a lot of rotating under the needle was involved.

It’s always nice to see your work after some time; you get a different perspective on it. And it makes me want to make some more! I really got caught up with the oranges for a time. I dyed using a magenta and a fuchsia with the same yellow and came up with a myriad of yellow and red oranges. I keep trying to do something very abstract, but it doesn’t seem to be in me. Perhaps I can move from these simple quilts to one that are more abstract; this is as close as I have come.

Many years ago when I started dyeing cotton and became a quilter, I wanted to make a progressive quilt where the color moves. I never did it as I thought it would be too dull in plain hand dyes, but when I dyed the arashi shibori I knew that this was the fabric I needed! The center color is pure fuchsia and it moves out to the edge which is a pure blue. This one gave me fits – I didn’t know how much fabric I would need as I moved out and I spent a lot of time dyeing to match. A color would look “close enough” but jump out when I sewed it in place…..

This is my take on Chinese Coin quilts, made wonky, and was made to use up “bits”. The inspiration for the applique design came from the back of a woman’s blue jean jacket at a craft show! I whipped out my pad and did a quick drawing. You never know when you will see something interesting!

I hope this gives you some ideas for quilts and helps you make yourself cut up beautiful fabrics that you have. If you’d like to see some close-ups, I have added a page to my website.

Arashi Shibori Class – the Reveal

Fall definitely seems to be here, but I had hoped that it would be warm enough last Thursday for us to sit outside to do the messy job of adding dyes and chemicals to the buckets…. Instead, I put lots of sheets of plastic, covered with old towels on the kitchen floor. Dyes were mixed at the kitchen table. As you can see, there were lots of different colors and I had everyone using their smart phones to time the various buckets!

Another reason I like to dye outdoors is emptying the buckets. This size bucket, with lots of water in it is very, very heavy to lift up and try to accurately pour into the sink. However, Peter was working at home and I asked him to help carry the buckets outside where we dumped them in the sewer grate in the backyard. The hose was on as well, so that the bucket could be sprayed to get the excess dye out, as could the pipes with the drippy dyes. And here we are indoors again as the reveal begins.

It’s amazing how much dental floss is used to wind around the fabric. And look how pretty! Unwrapping arashi shibori fabric is so much fun!!!

This is Debbie, impersonating a tree trunk! No really, she brought a new brown dye to try – isn’t it a great color? Earlier, when they were dumping buckets outside, I did see her photographing the trunk of our gorgeous burr oak. Perhaps a project is in the making.

Barb is washing a nice piece of red-orange.

And here is one of the pieces of fabric that Bev overdyed. She creates art quilts and these fabrics could be the inspiration for a new series – I hope!

I really enjoy teaching shibori and surface design classes. Helping students learn a new technique and be inspired, inspires me as well. I asked them to send pictures and a write up when they use these lovely fabrics in a new project, so look for a guest post coming soon. Barb took me seriously and this morning I found this picture of all the fabric she dyed on Thursday – thanks Barb! (And sorry, I can’t get the picture to turn….)