Posted by: bschutzgruber | November 29, 2016

When first you don’t succeed = dye…. dye…. again!

I used to say “I will never dye”.
Oh sure… I know that we all eventually die…. but dye??? Nope…. not my thing.

Over the years I’ve taken a few of dyeing workshops and attended lectures on the science behind chemical and natural dyes. I find these fascinating and informative but this aspect of the fiber arts has never ‘clicked’ a desire to study and learn techniques in-depth. And that’s OK…. I do not have to ‘do it all’.  I will gladly support those who love to dye when I need something done.

But I have come to realized that I would like to be able to do some simple dye work with silk chiffon or habotai fabric that I can use for felting, garment linings, or trim. So earlier this month I signed up for an afternoon beginners dye class taught by fellow Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild member Michele Montour at the Ann Arbor Art Center.

Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique involving folding or stitching fabric which produces patterns on fabric when it is dyed.  This technique which goes back to the 8th century and the patterns can be extremely complicated and detailed.  What we call ‘tie-dye’ here in the USA is very simplistic by comparison. Michele brought plenty of samples for us to see and talked about how folding, tying or twisting the fabric creates different effects.


She walked us through the process of using vinegar, fiber-reactive dye, and steaming in a microwave to set the dye.  I folded my fabric into a triangle shape and then tied the bundle.

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When I opened it I saw that large sections of the fabric did not come in contact with the dye.  So I simply bunched it up and put it into a second dye bath of a slightly different color.

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It still needed something else so this time I made accordion folds that were held in place with clips and put it into a dye bath of a third color.  NOW I was happy with the final result!

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For my second scarf I twisted the fabric tightly and held it with clips. I mixed up my own color concoction and into the dye bath and microwave it went!

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Again I needed to re-twist, over-dye and steam several more times to build the color and design.

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By the end of the workshop I was thinking, “Wow…. THIS I can see myself doing”.  Once home, I ordered primary colors (red, blue, yellow), plus taupe and hot pink and from these I can make other colors.  I have an old microwave (which now will NEVER be used to heat food again!) and vinegar.

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I over-dyed my cranberry scarf using a mix of yellow, taupe, and hot pink and am pleased with the result.

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So yes…. I guess I am going to dye.




  1. I have said the same thing about not dying Barbara, though I have done some a long time ago. I love what you have done – all the layers are great – there is so much happening in there. Happy Christmas to you all over there 😄

    • Thank you Alastair. I hope you had a peaceful Christmas and the New Year be filled with adventures!

      • Thanks Barbara- it’s just turned new year here. Happy New Year when it gets to you 😄

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