Why You Need to Embrace Indigo Shibori Dyeing (Plus, How to Master It)

Why You Need to Embrace Indigo Shibori Dyeing (Plus, How to Master It)
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This feature is a part of our annual April color issue, on newsstands now. For more stories like this, subscribe to InStyle.

What, you might be wondering, exactly is indigo shibori dyeing? It's a Japanese tie-dye technique, and one that easily adds interest to your décor without overwhelming any existing color scheme. Since the blue is so deep, it works like a neutral and pairs well with similarly strong shades like red, yellow, and emerald.

We asked artist and designer Rebecca Atwood to give us a tutorial in her Brooklyn studio, then we broke the process down into step-by-step instructions. Ready to give it a whirl?

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Supplied Needed:

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Cotton or linen fabric
RIT dye in your choice of color
Soda ash
Synthrapol (pH balanced soap)
Rubber bands
Plastic or glass containers (that you do not use for food preparation)
Measuring cups and spoons
Two large pots

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Step 1: Scour the fabric

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Place the fabric in a pot with water and one tablespoon of soda ash. Add a few drops of the pH balanced soap. Bring the water to a boil, then let it simmer for an hour. Drain and rinse the fabric.

Step 2: Fold the fabric

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Fold the fabric in half lengthwise until you have the desired width. The width of your fabric will change the scale of your pattern. Then fold the fabric lengthwise into a square shape so that it is even. Wrap your folded bundle tightly with the rubber bands. The tighter the rubber bands, the less dye that will seep inside.

Step 3: Prepare the dye

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In order for the dye to be absorbed evenly, you'll need to soak your bundled fabric in a bowl of water for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. While the fabric is soaking, mix the dye by slowly mixing two teaspoons of dye with one cup of water to create a paste. When the dye is dissolved, add one more cup of water for a total of two cups.

Step 4: Activate the dye

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Add the fabric to the dye mixture and wait 10 minutes. Then, to activate the dye, add 1/2 cup of water and one-and-a-half tablespoons of soda ash. Leave the fabric in the dye mixture for approximately one hour.

Step 5: Remove and rinse the fabric

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Let your fabric bundles soak in a fresh pot of water, changing the water frequently until it runs clear. On the final rinse, mix in one or two drops of the pH balanced soap. Run your dyed fabrics through the washing machine separately at least once before mixing with your other laundry.

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