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!
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?