Singing the Blues

When I go fabric shopping, I tend to buy neutral colors, white in particular. My thinking is that I can always dye it. This project is one more reason why that is a smart idea. Last week, I discovered a link to a textile tutorial showing a super easy way to make Shibori printed fabric. Shibori, incidently, is the Japanese technique of folding, tying, and resist dying that leaves patterns on fabric. While I've been a real fan of hippy-dippy tie dye, I do like the discipline and tranquility emanating from this blue patterned material. Once I tried a couple of the patterns, I got hooked and found this to be as much fun as using my old Polaroid camera back in the day. You prepare a little packet, drench it in the dye bath, then open it up to discover the surprise print!

What's particularly nice is that you can plan patterns scaled for the doll can make only as much as you need for a particular look.  For this exercise, I put all of my energy into making 9x9" (24x24cm) squares. Instead of making real clothes this time around, I treated my mini-samples as doll sized scarves which I draped over the bodies of my divas for fast summertime fashion. I first used cotton muslin, then ventured over to other types of washable fabric. The important thing is to select natural fibers. Traditionally, this technique is used in conjunction with Indigo, a natural dye, however, I used what I had on hand (Rit dye). Indigo, usually sold in kits, generally produces a deeper, more rich blue. If you are making lots of doll clothes (or perhaps selling them) you might consider investing in a kit. Otherwise, an ordinary dye will still produce satisfactory results. Does it have to be blue? Hey, you're the designer. It's your fabric. Use whatever color you want!!!

I started out with the intentions of doing just three patterns, and as usual, I became so fascinated by the process I had to stop myself at six so that I could write this post!
The first pattern that caught my eye was one of stripes. For this project, you will need fabric, some sort of cylindrical object (I used the metal rod of my vacuum cleaner), cotton string, fabric dye, vinegar, salt, water, rubber globes and two containers--one for the dye bath and the other for the colorfast bath.

1. Take your fabric and position it diagonally against the cylinder.
2. Roll it up.
3. Wrap the string  twice around the pole and tie. Repeat every 3/4" (18mm).
4. Then crush everything down into one compact unit.
5. Prepare your dye bath. Since I make tiny quantities, I do what I call, "tea cup" dying. In a coffee mug, pour in 1 cup of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of dye and stir.
6. Take the fabric wrapped pole and FIRST, dip it in water. (This step is important.)
7. Now submerge the pole in the hot water for about 10-15 minutes.
8. Put on rubber gloves. Remove from the dye bath. Remove the strings
9. Rinse well under warm running water and rinse until the water runs clear. In the second bowl, mix together 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Drench the fabric well, then rinse once again to make it colorfast. Dry.
This is the result!!!
Here's another classic technique.
1. Again, I began by folding my fabric back and forth accordion style.
2. Fold it into one long length.
3. Fold the corner into a triangle.
4. Fold the triangle up and over into another triangle. It's like folding a flag.
5. Continue to fold until all the fabric has been folded up. Take a piece of cardboard and cut two triangles the same size as your fabric packet. Make a sandwich with these and your fabric packet but place them so the points are opposite to those of the packet.
6. Use a clip to hold in place. (You can also use rubber bands.)
Dunk in water and proceed with the dye bath as described above.
When it is dry, here is what you get! If you want your color to be darker, leave in the dye bath longer. For my results, I left it in for about 15 minutes.

By now I was having too much fun. So I surfed the internet for a few more quick and easy patterns.

1. For this pattern, you softly gather the fabric into soft (accordion) folds, forming a long strip.
2. Once in a long strip, begin to fold the strip into accordion folds to form a small, square packet.
3. Bind the packet by wrapping string around several times in both directions. The image on the left is what this produces.
Now that you understand there are so many different ways you can take this.
Here, we simply took the fabric and scrunched it up into a ball.
Next, we wound the cotton cord, helter skelter all around it.
The result is a sort of a techno sonic space print!
Let's do one more.
1. As with an earlier pattern, I begin by folding my fabric lengthwise in accordion folds.
2. Next, I applied a variety of clips and clamps to both sides of this folded material.
3. After the dye bath is completed, the result resembles a sort of Xray of bones!!!
As you see, everywhere the clip pressed into the fabric, it kept the dye away. The result is a random patterned ethnic-print.

What I will suggest is that you make a variety of experimentations using different fabrics, dyes, maybe even colors. For this project, I've used my samples as little scarves to drape the girls' outfits. But when cut into jackets, dresses, pants and tops....they all make for a stunning collection of summer fashions!!!

All photo and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist, 2017. Please do not use without prior permission. Thank you.

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