This White-Hot Dyeing Technique Will Feed Your Rebellious Streak

If you’ve worn out your post-Labor Day whites to a tired looking yellow tone, try brightening them up this fall with Shibori, the Japanese term for tie-dye. The process will transforms your whites with bold, organic patterns. The kaleidoscopic tie-dye look has been around for centuries—since long before Grateful Dead was even a band—but Shibori has recently become popular again thanks to its immediate and unexpected results. It’s also quite cheap to do.

To master the art of Shibori, says Katrin Reifeiss, an instructor at Textile Arts Center, all you need is a clamp, a two by four sheet of Plexiglas, a bucket of dye, and any textile from t-shirts to pillowcases. By folding the fabric, then creating resistance with the clamp and Plexiglas, Reifeiss transfers striking indigo patterns onto everyday household cloths.

To recreate Reifeiss’s turtle-shell pattern on a tablecloth, start by pleating the fabric lengthwise into an accordion-like stack (the width of the fold determines the size of the triangles). Then, fold the bottom corner of the pleated stack up to form a triangular flap. Flip the length of fabric under this flap, lining up the edges of the triangle with the edges of the pleated stack. Repeat the folding, going over and under along the length of your fabric until you are left with a stack in the shape of an equilateral triangle. 

Clamp the Plexiglas tightly over the top and bottom, and submerge the formation into your indigo dye bath. When you remove and unfold the fabric, don’t be surprised by its yellowish color; the bright blue that will emerge after about 15 minutes is sure to make waves.

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