Thursday, August 7, 2014

Shirokage II

About a month ago, I discussed the process for shirokage, but I didn't have much in the way of photos.  Today, I'll describe how it works in more detail, with the play-by-play back story of this piece:

I don't have photos of the stitching, but it's the same method as pictured in my July 4 blog entry.  In this case, I drew the triangular grid on the fabric with a chalk pencil.  Then I folded along the grid lines, and put in a running stitch parallel to the fold lines about a quarter of an inch below.  I like to use Cebelia DMC #20 thread, which is strong enough that it doesn't need to be doubled, but still thin enough to stitch with relative ease.

I pulled up the stitches, knotted the loose ends, and cut off the excess thread.  After that, I stuffed little bits of cotton wadding (from cotton balls) into the little depressions that resulted, like so:

The cotton fluff acted as a resist, so that the triangle pattern would stay relatively white.  In order to keep the dye off the back side, I put a couple of layers of quilt batting at the back, and tied everything to a piece of PVC pipe:

Prepped fabric immersed in water prior to dyeing
Next came the dipping!  Here's how it looked after one of the early dips:

Several dips later (after a total of eight), I took the fabric off the pipe:

Did the resist work?  I dug out the cotton balls and saw white below!

Then came the moment of truth:

The real moment of truth came after washing and rinsing, which showed the final color.  Happily, the dye set, and I had a nice, dark indigo against a mostly white background!

close-up: fini!
Shibori dyeing is an act of faith: you do an enormous amount of prep work and just have to trust that something wonderful will result in the end, even if it's not entirely what you intended.  In this case, you'll see in the first photo that I missed a row of stitching in the bottom left.  (I wondered why my count didn't add up after I pulled the stitches!)  Nonetheless, I'm thrilled with this piece, and the moment when I removed the last thread and opened up the fabric was just magical.


  1. I keep saying that I don't want to start thinking about dyeing my own fabric, but your blog is putting cracks in my resolve! This process is so interesting, and the results are amazing. I really like how there are a few darker triangles around the edge -- it makes the whole piece more luminous. Another successful batch!

  2. Beautiful, even with the missed stitches! :-) I've missed pulling up lines of stitching before, especially where I've done concentric circles.

    1. I suppose I could always claim I wanted a diamond in the corner! It can be hard to keep track of all the rows of stitching, even with different colors of thread. All part of the adventure!