I’m always looking for another excuse to dye something, and since Father’s Day is just a few days away (this Sunday), I thought I’d do some last minute DIYing for Dad.
Somehow though, I got a little carried away and ended up turning a simple DIY hankie project into wall hangings, tea towels, and a whole lot more. Haha. You can use them for whatever you’d like though!
So whether it’s a gift for dear ol’ Dad, or a present for yourself, I have an easy-to-follow shibori dyed textiles tutorial for you.
P.S. If the term shibori has you running for the hills, don’t worry! It’s just a fancy term for resist dyeing that consists mainly of wrapping and folding techniques that are really simple. Pinkie promise.
Quick note… To make this project more accessible and a bit less messy, I did not use indigo powder, which you’ll often see with shibori projects. I used a liquid dye…one specifically made for synthetic materials, since the hankies I bought are a polyester cotton blend.
Synthetic dyes typically recommend that you use the stovetop method. I’m not especially into having to use pots and pans for dyeing projects, so I do it this way instead (and it works really well)…
- plain white hankies (mine are from Amazon and cost $1 a piece)
- synthetic fabric dye (I used this one)
- small pieces of cardboard, rubber bands, metal clips
- medium size container
- metal spoon for stirring
- gloves (I didn’t use gloves for this project because I find them annoying sometimes, but if you don’t want to dye your hands, you should definitely wear gloves.)
1. First, submerge the hankies in water. I used my kitchen sink. Then, wring out the excess water and fold each hankie into a different design. You can fold them up into squares, triangles, rectangles, scrunched up balls, etc, etc. And if you get a big pack of hankies, like this one, you can totally experiment without having to worry about being crazy precious with each one.
I used cardboard pieces on the front and back of several hankies after they were folded (see photo), metal clips, rubber bands, etc. There is no right or wrong way to do this, so just have fun with it.
2. Next, pour half of a bottle of synthetic fabric dye into a medium sized bowl filled with hot water. Use the hottest water you can get (just from your sink is fine – as long as it is hot).
3. Stir the dye bath thoroughly with a spoon or something similar.
4. Put on gloves and place the folded, clipped, and rubber band-ed hankies into the dye bath for 20-30 minutes, making sure that all of the hankies are fully submerged in the dye. The longer the hankies are in the dye, the deeper the color will be.
5. With your gloves still on, remove the hankies from the dye. Then, squeeze out the dye under running water in the sink, until the water runs clear underneath each hankie. I’d recommend using a stainless steel or utility sink, so that the dye doesn’t damage any surfaces.
6. Wash in washing machine (no soap), then run through the dryer to heat set before using.
I had so many hankies leftover (I can’t give ALL 13 to my Dad can I? Feels like overkill.), I kept some for myself and am using them around the studio as tea towels, wall decor, and as little bandanas for Luna and Franz. I wish Gertie was around for this. She would have looked so cute in a little bandana. Dang it, I miss her.
Anyway, if you plan to use these hankies as tea towels (they’re totally big enough for it), just beware that they’re thinner than normal tea towels… They’ll dry your hands like little champions though. So, I definitely recommend ’em.
Photography by Amelia Tatnall and Brittni Mehlhoff