“Tie Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It” Review!

Hi, all!  It’s back to school time (or at least very close to it!) here in the United States, and as usual, I’m in the grips of a seasonal urge to learn!  But since I know that it’s just the cool evening air and a heaping helping of nostalgia giving me these feelings, I like to channel these feelings into learning about a new skill or hobby, and I’m guessing some of you are the same way.  So this fall I’ve decided to learn more about dyeing!

Obviously all the artwork and images from the book aren’t my own…

I don’t remember where I first read about her (probably on the Textile Arts Center blog), but I stumbled across Shabd Simon-Alexander’s book, Tie Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It (available on her site or on Amazon) and instantly ordered it.  In the past, I’ve attended workshops on bundle dyeing and shibori (using indigo), but Shabd’s book is about how to use fiber reactive dyes.  As much as I enjoyed working with natural elements and indigo, it seems easier to dye large pieces of fabric or whole garments with fiber reactive dyes.

This book assumes that you have no previous experience using dyes (perfect!) and walks you through the entire process, from sourcing materials to curing your dyed garments.  For me, dyeing seems like a mysterious art with unpredictable results.  But Shabd gives lots of tips and tricks to achieve specific looks.  For example, she shows you the way that one dye color reacts differently with different fibers:

Pretty cool, huh?  Maybe you can’t know exactly how your project will turn out, but you can definitely make a more educated guess with the help of this book.

I really like that the book elevates tie dye from a sort of cheesy arts & crafts look to something much more elegant.  There’s much more to tie dye than bright spirals (I say this with love– I’ve spent more hours than I’d care to admit listening to the Grateful Dead and I’ve definitely worn some tie dye disasters)!  Even folks who fear obvious prints and patterns can find a look for them, like this take on polka dots:

Or this fun version of the classic Breton top:

These are both really cool, but I’m drawn to some of the wilder styles, like the cosmic leggings:

I love the simple, modern garments that Shabd dyes, like this top:

It’s so delicate and pretty, not something you would expect from traditional tie dye!  I highly recommend the book– it’s really inspirational!

I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but I’m really tempted to start dyeing fabric!  What about you guys?  Are you interesting in dyeing?  Are you learning any new skills or techniques this fall?  Anybody actually going back to school?

88 responses

  1. Lol. My draping class is over but now I’m in a Bollywood dance class. But as usual, I have all kinds of sewing, fashion history and illustration and related books checked out from the library.

    I haven’t tie-dyed anything since primary school ( fourth grade or so ). I wouldn’t mind trying it again in a controlled environment.

    Like

  2. Ooh I also have this book, it is really great! I took Shabds course in march, after I met you guys and it was really great. I’ve dyed my own fabrics two times this year, both outside, but I’m sure I’ll make quite a mess when the weather turns bad and I have to dye inside… I tried the polka dot technique and I’m quite happy with the result. Can’t wait to see what you make!

    Like

  3. That does look like tie die elevated to the next level. I tried tie dying with the kiddos this summer. Of course they did not listen to me at all and their shirts were a lovely brown and yellow by the time they were through!

    Like

  4. Oh, this looks fun! I’m too klutzy for it, though.

    I am going back to school, and switching schools. So I’m currently trying to find tasteful bullet points for my resumé (as in, the literal bullet points, as I can’t stand those garish black dots) and practicing interview facial expressions, so that I can land an internship. Rock and roll, the lot of it. Maybe I’ll mix things up and get a vat of dye going.

    Like

    • I can just imagine myself tripping over a vat of dye and turning everything around me cyan– ugh! I’m currently nursing 5 giant scabs after tripping and falling when I was RUNNING, so maybe it’s smart to avoid adding permanent stains to the mix, ha!

      Where are you headed now? Leaving the happy bulldogs behind you?

      Like

      • Oy. Scabs add character, right? I have managed to fall while standing still (my ankles gave out), so your pain is felt. Maybe the dyeing can be farmed out to unsuspecting loved ones? I’d be excellent at distant dyeing moral support.

        Columbia! It turns out, I can’t live in a city without a garment district or a proper public transportation system.

        Like

  5. I’m very interested in dyeing! The results can be so unexpected (good or bad) but I have a dagging curiosity to conquer the techniques. Unfortunately, I’m about to be so busy with baby, I’m gonna have to wait. Guess I’ll put my learning to figuring out how to care for a tiny human, lol!

    Like

    • Haha, I’m guessing you might have the steepest learning curve of all of us! Talk about mysterious things with unpredictable results! But I’m sure you’ll be an awesome mama. 😀

      Like

  6. I always have the urge to go back to school at this time of year too, so maybe I should follow your lead and learn a new hobby 🙂

    Like

    • It was so fun reading about your black walnut dye experiments a few weeks ago! I’ve definitely been on the lookout for them– if I see any lying around, I’ll scoop them right up!

      Like

  7. Ooh! I can’t wait to see what you make! I can see why you are inspired- those photos are fab!

    I’m signed up for a Craftsy dyeing class but haven’t taken the plunge! I can’t justify a new hobby. In fact, I should place UFOs as a hobby in and of itself!

    My only back-to-school activities are completing dresses for the little one so she can have new threads for the school year start.

    Like

  8. How fun! I admit I cringed a little when I saw this was about tie-dying and I mayyy have started to scroll past it, but luckily I saw some of the examples in the book and it’s got me so interested! They look so lovely, and I can’t wait to see what you make with it!

    Like

  9. Thanks for the peek inside, looks like a fabulous book. Great to hear it’s for absolute beginners too. I love the dots and stripe patterns, would never have thought to use tie-dye for that effect. I’m definitely going to pick it up!

    Like

  10. I’d never heard of this book so I really appreciate this review! I have a feeling this one will end up in my cart at some point!

    This made me giggle though, because I associate tie-dying with the end of the school year rather than the beginning. When I was teaching Montessori elementary, every year on the next-to-last day of school, I did tie-dye t-shirts with all my students. I knew a few different techniques, and each child got to choose their own design and colors for their t-shirt. Then we all wore our shirts on the last day of school for the end-of-year party. I have about a million of them still in my drawers!

    Like

  11. oooh now this looks very interesting!! LOVE manfriend’s reaction – in my head it was said while standing and accompanied by an arm pointing to the doorway 😉
    my back to school season is going to be the total opposite, after going back to college as a mature student in September 2008, a H-Dip, Masters and most of a professional qualification later I am sitting my last exam at the end of this month & then freedom to do all the things i already know how to do whenever I like without any study guilt!!!

    Like

    • That’s pretty much the posture! He hates any kind of mess and is always terrified when I do anything messy (“No!!! Don’t cut your own hair!!!!!”). At least one of us is concerned about keeping things clean, ha!

      Congrats, girl! You will be so relieved to be done! Man, I still don’t think I’ve ever felt so free as when I finished my undergrad degree– just knowing that when you get home at the end of the day, there isn’t ANYTHING you’re supposed to be doing! What a great feeling– I’m so excited for you!

      Like

  12. Hi Ginger,
    In art quilt world, we call it “low water immersion dyeing.” I dye in my laundry room, even sometimes spreading dye with cosmetic sponges. It cleans right up. Be really careful about the dye powder Before it is wet, however. Most of wear dust masks Nd I have now invested in a respirator: very Darth Vaderesque. You should search out experienced dyers … maybe on thw quilt-world side, and take a one-day class. What’s the cool, arty quilt shop there … City Fabrics or some-such? Ask there for an instru ctor’s name. Feel free to contact me if you have a question.
    http://www.tina-rathbone.blogspot.com

    Like

  13. This is so cool! I really have loved seeing different bloggers dye projects – I love that last top in your post – so cute and understated! And yes… I went back to school (as a teacher 😉 today! Kids come Wednesday! Let the games begin!!! Lol 🙂

    Like

  14. Such a project, Sonja! I’ve been thinking about trying to dye for a while, but I don’t think I’ll do it. Instead, I will work on improving my sewing skills and I’d like to do more tambour embroidery. Oh, and maybe spending more time learning Japanese 🙂

    Like

    • Hahahaha! But aren’t you leaving Japan soon? More time for dyeing! 😉

      But seriously, tambour embroidery seems so cool, so I hope you keep at it! I loved the examples you showed from the French house that does work for Chanel. So pretty!

      Like

      • Yes, I do plan to leave Japan soon, but Japanese language is so beautiful it would be such a shame not to improve it and (why not) become fluent! So I can translate Japanese sewing books for money 🙂

        Like

  15. I could totally see you in those Cosmic Leggings! This looks like something you will enjoy… I confess we have lots of tye dye- The “swirly” kind because my son got into it and couldn’t stop. By the time he was done we all had numerous garments in those bright swirly prints. I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with! ~Laurie

    Like

    • How fun! You’re a brave mom– mine didn’t want us anywhere near anything with that much potential to cause a big mess! I mean, I don’t blame her, since five kids and vats of dye is a shortcut to serious disaster… 🙂

      Like

  16. I can’t wait to see what you make! I think a dying sew-along would be an awesome idea!! So much fun to see what everyone comes up with and they would all be totally unique.

    Like

  17. I’m so intrigued with dyeing. But since I’m already sewing, knitting, embroidering and fixing my apartment, I think I’ll have to wait before taking up a new hobby. It’ll be fun to see what you create though!

    Like

  18. I love her clothes! I have been a fan for a few years (I love the leggings and bikinis she made). Thanks for sharing about the book, might have to track down a copy.

    Like

  19. great minds think alike! I recently visited a person who makes batik fabric (batikist) – wax resist dyed fabric. Lot’s of fun but the fumes from the dyes were terrible :/

    Like

  20. I love this book and have spent several afternoons working with it. Really fun. I had a party with about 4 others and we all shared dyes which was the best because I bought the dyes I *thought* I liked best but turns out….I really don’t. This is a super social craft!

    Like

    • Oh, wow, that sounds really fun! I’ll have to have a dye party, too! It’s so fun to work on projects in a group, especially since sewing is such a solitary activity most of the time.

      Like

  21. Oooh I’ve been coveting this book for some time now! I think Shabd makes the most beautiful dyed garments. If I was in the NY area I would totally try to take a class with her!

    Like

  22. Thanks for the review. It looks like so much fun. Don’t think of it as an additional hobby, more like a “support the sewing hobby”. You have to have the perfect fabric for your next project, right? and lots of times where I am the only way to get that is to dye it yourself. So off to get the book.

    Like

    • So true– this is backup for sewing! There really are so many times when you’re looking for *just* the right color and you can’t find it. I need to get over my fear of dyeing and just start doing it!

      Like

  23. Oh, I recently had a little dyeing mishap that I haven’t blogged yet. It ended in my husband being the proud owner of 3 pairs of pink shorts. (he he he. oopsie!)

    Like

  24. Yes to learning how to dye this fall! I’ve only tried it once, but after seeing Sallieoh’s amazing painted creations recently, I seriously need to learn how to do that! It would open up a whole new world of possibilities for plain organic fabric. I can’t wait to see what you create, and hear about your experiences!

    Like

  25. Gosh, this looks like fun! I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I really like that stripe shirt. It has such a fun ‘messy’ quality to it, but still looks classic.

    Like

  26. Wow! This looks like so much fun! I did some silk painting at art college and I loved never knowing how it’d turn out (I was pretty rubbish at it – I don’t think silk painting is supposed to be so uncontrolled…!) – I bet you’ll come up with something awesome! Those leggings look so cool! I’m learning to program in September, but I really want to have a go at lace cut-outs that look like this (http://www.ficklesense.com/2013/02/my-cut-out-lace-challenge.html). One day, maybe… Good luck with your new adventure!

    Like

  27. Ooo wow!! The book looks very inspirational I did some tie dying techniques in college and I loved it! I’ve never giving it a go on anything I’ve sewn though! I’d love to take up something new but I’m crap at finding the time to doing it! Looking forward to seeing what you create!

    Like

  28. omg, those clothes are beautiful. i used to dye all the time, using only RIT. when i go to dharma trading post, my eyes boggle at all the colors of their dye. where were they????? i am making a lady grey jacket this fall and i decided to use silk crepe from dharma and a dye of my choosing. their prices for silks are very nice and wow! what about A SILK TIE-DYE LINING??????

    i think it’s a great idea to learn something new every fall….i find it’s the best time to think about new projects or pick up abandoned ones!

    Like

  29. Super cool. I love that last top, nice modern simple shape and subtle dyeing. I’m going to do a day workshop in natural dyeing in a month so I have high hopes I’ll be able to recreate something like that…. hmm lets see what happens in reality.

    Like

  30. Dyeing is so much fun! It totally syncs with sewing. It’s *really* not that messy, unless you want to paint. I can do most of my dye projects in about a 2-foot square area… and often put my dye “tub” right in the sink, so that when it’s done, dump and clean.

    Like

Got something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: