Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Indigo Dyeing Old Fabrics

People often show up with some item of clothing they want to dye blue in the indigo because it has a stain on it or they are bored with the colour. Someone gave me her Issey Miyake cotton wedding dress and asked me to dye it blue...'the marriage only lasted a few months and I really liked the dress'.
Just dumping in the indigo usually makes it worse. There is little thought gone into what the outcome could or will be.  A particular shade of blue is about all that is considered.

Flat machine plain weave usually looks tired when dyed. Polyester stitching remains white and looks cheap. Indigo is precious. Treat it with respect!

Kawamoto san had this interesting white material and I stopped her as she was about to dip it a few times. I know from experience it would come out looking like a blue dishrag.  I showed her how to take a little time and scrunch up the wet material. Then pour on spots, let them oxidize and repeat three times. Open the cloth and squeeze it out. Re-scrunch and repeat this over and over. The gauze-like material looks cloud-like and the applique arabesques are charming instead of annoying.


  1. sometimes when we have a little bit of knowledge, and we share it, it makes all the difference.

  2. 'Lascia fare al Maestro' or: hand it to the Master. Always a good suggestion. Beautiful.

  3. bryan-san,
    as you say ai is precious and let me add that i am cheap.here's my question: is it ok to pour back into the vat the collected drippings from dyed cloth? if i'm going to add hydro to the vat on the second day and re reduce i don't see why i can't.

  4. Neki san,
    If the drippings were relatively clear there is not enough pigment in them to bother returning to the vat. You are just adding more oxygen that you will have to remove again. Squeezing a piece of freshly dyed cloth over the vat is different. The indigo white has not been fully oxidized so it can go back into the vat. Every drop is precious.