Is it getting a bit dull in the bedroom!? I hear ya… Well, (I can help) this easy DIY is a simplified version of Shibori dyeing and doesn’t require a big vat of blue dye or turning yourself into a blue ‘smurf’! Take that new or dingy white linen to the designer level in no time and it will seem like a whole new space…
This method uses a fibre reactive dye that will be a more convenient substitute for the traditional use of indigo. Don’t bother trying to use RIT or Dylon, as this dye is fantastic and has great staying power. (I had tried the others first with sad results)
You will need:
- Natural fibre (cotton, linen, rami, silk) sheets or Duvet Cover
- Procion MX Dye, NAVY 078 or other Fibre Reactive Dye
- Rubber gloves, Dust Mask
- Measuring spoon; (teaspoon) Measuring Cup
- Large brush, squirt bottle/eye dropper
- Set Squares or other plastic panels
- Rubber bands
- Washing Soda (Soda Ash)
- Facility to rinse
- Clamps or a helping set of hands
Step #1 : Prepare fabric
Mix a cup of washing soda into a large bucket of warm water. Soak the bedding/duvet cover for at least 30 minutes. This will get the fibres receptive to the dye. I find it also seems to clean quite well (it is washing soda afterall!)
After the soak, put on your gloves and wring out the fabric as much as possible. Yup, use those muscles! You don’t want it to be dripping. It is best if you have a long table that can get a bit wet, or cover the dining room table.
Step #2: The Folding
I was cursing as I was trying to fold… Until I came up with an ingenious idea:
Divide the shorter end into the number of sections that you would like the design to multiply. I suggest less rather than more but it is up to you. I used 7 sections for a single duvet.
Clamp it onto the table to hold the end or enlist someones help. Now you can divide the other end to the same sections and pull it tight to have a great accordian-fold. you can see some of the folding basics here.
After the long fold, you now fold the triangles back and forth. There are 2 versions of triangles but I chose the one with the 90 degree angle. (to learn the basics I played with a piece of paper and a marker to see how the patterns work)
Fold carefully to try to keep the outer edges lined up as they are what take the dye. There is a certain charm to any creases so don’t stress too much.
I had looked around for some type of panel I could use to keep it sturdy while dyeing and found my drawing tools called; ‘Set Squares‘, and they worked well. If you don’t have some you could substitute some other plastic panel or cover some sturdy cardboard with plastic. Secure the stack with some elastic bands.
Step #3: The dye:
This fibre reactive dye is very strong, get the gloves on… It is very concentrated and goes a long way. For the twin duvet cover I used 3/4 cup of water and 1.5 teaspoons of dye (use a dust mask when measuring and mixing the dye until it is incorporated). (The recommended ratio is 2 teaspoons to 1 cup water.)
This fibre reactive dye will take a bit of mixing until it is all dissolved. Look carefully that there are no bits still floating.
The traditional Shibori dyeing method involves huge vats of dye (which would scare me) and the fabric bundles are submersed. This simplified DIY Shibori method has no waste and less chance to get covered in ‘blue’. Paint or squirt the dye onto the edges, working around to keep it even.
It will absorb the dye nicely. The colour intensity is lovely! Fibre reactive dye comes in all colours but the navy is my favourite.
The dye will need to absorb through the layers to create the design by dyeing the folded edges. Don’t be stingy, as then the design will not be obvious.
The best results come from having enough dye. I work in a tray to keep the mess down.
I sneak a peek to see how far it has ‘bled’ through the layers.
To further help the dye to travel throughout the fabric, squeeze the edges quite well.
Step #4: The Processing:
This Fibre Reactive dye has some options of processing times. Place the bundle in a clean plastic bag. If you are in a rush you can use heat to set it faster; a dedicated microwave can warm it til hot to the touch (no metal allowed) or you may just leave it for 24 hours to use a longer set of lower heat (interior temperature). You could use the heat of the sun on a warm day in a garbage bag. Visit here for some good products and tutorials.
Once set (let cool if using heat), undo the elastics and rinse, rinse, rinse with cool water. You want to rinse out all the residual dye with cold water so that it does not set on any un-dyed sections. Once the water is running clear; you can add a bit of mild soap/detergent with hot water to give it a good wash.
You may just put it through a normal laundry cycle.
Hanging to dry makes it smell so much better and eliminate the wrinkles. Why not add some pillow cases as well?!
As you can see there are some areas that are not that perfect, but that is what makes it handmade designer bedding…
The details that dyeing holds are like artwork. So many possibilities and uses around the house. You can consider some tablecloths that perhaps have a stain, or tea towels, napkins…
The complete ‘Blue Bedroom’ complete reveal will be posted soon as it has been a labour of love.
The Shibori dyed Chair makes me smile each time I see it.
Perhaps you’d like to start small, ‘dip-your-finger-tips’ by starting with some easy pillows.
Blue and white always seems fresh and clean. I’ll show you how to paint your own forest as well. I know you can do it; is my motto!