Thursday, August 11, 2016

Exploring Hand Stitched Shibori

Candace Edgerley here, one of the new members of The Printed Fabric Bee.  As I’m sure many of you can relate, I have varied fiber technique interests to include dyeing, block printing, screen printing, felting, knitting, and garment construction. The traditional Japanese resist dye technique of shibori is my favorite. Surface pattern is created between the folds by clamping, binding, pole wrapping and stitching. Recently I’ve been obsessed with various traditional stitched shibori patterns, working to make them my own. The patterns I plan to introduce in this and the next few blog posts all are created with a simple running stitch. Also an August giveaway will take place August 31. See details at the bottom of this post.


I find the hand stitching very relaxing and so portable--think riding as a passenger on a long car trip to the beach, binge watching your favorite TV series, or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office. Traditional Japanese stitch resist techniques are best suited for narrow strips of fabric as the Japanese created the patterns for kimono fabric which is between 13 1/2" and 14 1/2" wide. I've been working with strips of silk and cotton which are no more than 15" wide. Though it may mean threading more needles and tying more knots, it makes pulling up the gathers in the fabric much easier than across a wide expanse of fabric.

Whether you are familiar with shibori, or are interested to give it a try, I plan to share some tips to help give you the results you want to achieve. This blog doesn't cover the dyeing process so I've been experimenting with various paints as well. If you are interested in using dye, I recommend Ann Johnston's book and/or video Color by Accident


Hand stitched Mokume and Ori-nui shibori.

Tools:

The tools for preparing the fabric are simple and make this a very portable art. My favorites below:
  • Various needles (though any needle will work according to the weight of the fabric)
    • Richard Hemming & Son, Milliners Size 10
    • Richard Hemming & Son, Long Darners Size 7
    • Richard Hemming & Son, Darners Size 5
    • Dritz Quilting Basting needles, Size 7
  • Thread (Use a strong, doubled thread.  Regular sewing thread isn't strong enough.)
    • Light weight fabrics – Coats & Clark Plus, Hand Quilting, 32% cotton/68% polyester
    • Medium weight fabrics – Coats & Clark XP, Heavy, 100% polyester
    • Heavy weight fabrics – Coats & Clark Plus, Craft& Button, 74% polyester, 26% cotton
  • Fabric
  • Scissors with a sharp tip (Gingher 4” embroidery)
  • Seam ripper (Dritz)
  • Spray bottle for water
  • Small case to carry it all (mine is a sweet case from a dear friend--thanks Regina!)

Your choice of dye or paint appropriate for the type of fabric:
  • MX fiber reactive dye 
  • Acid dye
  • Indigo
  • Dye-Na-Flow (actually a waterbased acrylic paint)
  • Other acrylic fabric paints such as Jacquard Textile Color, Pebeo Setacolor Opaque, Pro Chemical & Dye Profab Textile Paint, Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink 

LETS GET STARTED 


 1.  PREPARE THE FABRIC: If using dye, select the appropriate fabric for the type of dye you are using. With paints, most any type of fabric including polyesters can be used. I recommend experimenting. If the fabric is not PFD (prepared for dyeing), I recommend a prewash.

 2.  THREAD THE NEEDLE:  Estimate the length of thread you will need to complete the row of stitching, add another three inches or so and double that amount. Thread your needle with the thread doubled. This helps prevent broken thread and provides two ends which often come in handy for tying a knot after stitching.


 3.  KNOT THE THREAD:  Any large knot will do, but give a tailor's knot a try. So quick!  Directions are for right handers. Substitute the word "left" for you lefties.

--Wet the two ends of thread. 

--Pick up the needle with your right hand and lay the thread ends across your right index finger.

--Place your needle across the thread. 
--With your opposite hand, wrap the thread around the needle three or more times depending on how big a knot you need so that it doesn't pull through the fabric as you tighten the threads when gathering. 
--With your left index finger and thumb, lightly pinch over the thread wrapped needle. 
--Push up the eye end of the needle up with your right hand and continue to pull the needle up through the wrapped thread, pull the knot to the end of the thread with your opposite index finger and thumb nail. You may need to straighten the knot a bit, but we aren't striving for pretty. Just a nice thick knot.

If I've completely confused you, check out my first YouTube video demo.



 4.  STITCH:  Always do all the stitching first before drawing up the threads. Gathering the fabric before completing the stitching makes it impossible to keep track of where to stitch next. The three techniques I will be introducing all involve the running stitch. A simple in and out with the needle. I usually load three or more stitches on the needle before pulling the thread through the fabric.

 5.  GATHER: After doing all the stitching, pull up the threads using your fingernail to help inch the fabric along the length of threads.  I'll be introducing three stitch resist shibori techniques. Directions for the first, Mokume, follow these steps.

 6.  SPRAY:  After all the threads have been drawn up, use a spray bottle to lightly spray the fabric before tying off the threads. This water will swell up the fibers in the fabric and the thread making it possible to tighten the stitches even more and make it easier to tye off the knots. Do not wet the fabric before all the stitching is completed as it will be difficult to pull up the gathers once the fabric is wet.

 7. TIE: You may choose to tie the two ends of the thread together to secure the thread at the end of a row or tie the threads from two rows together. I usually tie the threads from two rows together.

 8.  SOAK THE FABRIC:  Soak your fabric in plain water for 30 minutes to an hour to saturate the folds. The water will help act as an additional resist and act as a "place holder." If you skip this step, the dye or paint will seep into the folds, wicking into the dry fabric and you will lose the sharp, crisp lines you are looking to create.  If using MX dye and you usually pre-soak your fabric in soda ash, I recommend changing your steps and add the soda ash at the same time you add the dye. Hand stitching fabric that has been pre-soaked with soda ash can be harsh on your hands. If using paint, experiment on samples with both wet and dry fabric to see how paint reacts. you may find applying the paint to dry fabric a better choice.

 9.  DYE OR PAINT YOUR FABRIC: If using dye, you may use either immersion or low water immersion methods. When I immersion dye, I allow my pieces to stay in the dye pot a minimum of one hour. If using paint, try various ways to apply the paint - soak in thinned paint, brush on paint. Be sure to read the directions for setting the type of paint you are using.

10.  REMOVING THE STITCHES/WASH OUT:  If using dye, rinse the piece well to remove excess dye before attempting to remove stitches. It is best to allow the fabric to dry, at least partially, before clipping the threads with small sharp scissors or a seam ripper to release the folds. It is so easy to accidentally clip the fabric when it is still wet. I usually give an additional rinse before the final wash out with synthrapol.  If using paint, follow manufacturer's directions for setting the paint. Then follow with a wash.


MOKUME (wood grain)

Mokume, MX dye on cotton
Using a simple running stitch, stitch parallel lines across the width of the fabric. Results will vary depending on the length of your stitches and the distance between the rows. All knots should be at one side of the fabric and the loose ends at the opposite side. You may or may not want to mark light pencil lines to follow when stitching. It is not necessary to line up stitches or be concerned about absolutely straight rows. I don't mark my fabric when stitching.


Once the fabric has all been stitched, gather up the stitches. After gathering, spray with water to swell the fibers which will make it easier to draw up the stitches even tighter and tie off the knots. You may choose to tie the two ends together or tie the ends of every two rows together. I prefer tying the ends of every two rows together depending on how far apart the rows might be.


To complete the piece, follow steps 8 through 10 above: Soak, Dye or paint,  Remove stitches, Wash out.

During a recent trip to India and seeing how many of the hand dyed fabrics were folded and stitched, I decided to try stitching two layers of fabric together. By stitching through two layers, I was able to stitch the same amount of fabric in half the time. See the piece below where I have folded one side in half and the other side on the diagonal. This is a great way to save time, but note that there will be a right and wrong side to pieces dyed this way. The inside of each fold will not receive as much dye as the outside.



So what's next? Next week I'll be posting a second stitch-resist shibori technique called Ori-nui.  I'd love to hear back from you concerning questions and whether I've inspired you to start stitching. Those who make comments will be added to the pool for my August giveaway...a pillow similar to one of those pictured at the beginning of this post. Leave your comment by August 30 and I'll post the winner of a random drawing at the top of the blog on the 31st.  Good luck and thanks for your interest in shibori.

  • Candace Edgerley with her hands in the pots.
    If you live in the Washington, DC area and are interested in taking classes, check out the schedule at The Art League School in Old Town Alexandria, VA. I'm teaching several shibori workshops as well as a low water immersion dye workshop and a Design and Print Your Own Fabric workshop.



39 comments:

  1. Thank you, Candace! I have been playing around with shibori recently. I never thought about doubling the fabric! Mind! Blown!

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    1. Give it a try. I'll post a few more examples in my next post.

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  2. Excited to see the results and how the dyes and paints react differently!

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    1. Working on a few experiments with fabric paint this week. Keep an eye out for my next blog post.

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  3. Nice, detailed process. You make shibori seem easy, which is probably not the case (as is most resist dye work). I'm very excited about the textures you are getting. Would love to see more!

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    1. More coming. It truly is easy. Hope you will give it a try.

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  4. Thank you for the fabulous tutorial. I have a shibori kit that I want to use this summer and now am looking forward to using your techniques.
    Love how content you look, Candace, with your hands in the dye pot.

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    1. Summer is almost over so I hope you will give it a try. Do it now!

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  5. Thank you for sharing, I like how you have your pots set in the garden, I must try this when our weather gets warmer

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    1. Though I do have a similar setup on my back patio, these pots are actually at Arromont School of Arts & Crafts where I attended a felting/natural dye class taught by Lisa Klakulak during the 2015 Surface Design Intensive, "Made/Aware: Socially Engaged Art". If you aren't familiar with SDA, check out their new website at www.surfacedesign.org.

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  6. Thanks so much for all the advice! I just got some indigo dye, and I can't wait to experiment with it. Your work is beautiful!

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    1. Thanks for the compliment! Hope you have your indigo pot going soon.

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  7. What an involved and lovely process to create fabric art. Lovely!

    Cheryl Leonard

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  8. Wow, one of the best instructions for Shibori tha I've seen! I'd love more!

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  9. Wow, one of the best instructions for Shibori tha I've seen! I'd love more!

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  10. This is the incentive I needed to try stitch resist shibori! Thank you. For the very clear and detailed instructions.

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  11. This is really good, Candy! I, as a person who does no fabric art or much sewing at all, kćan understand it! Of course, I was lucky to have you show us a bit of the work that goes into it!

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    1. Thanks Mari-Ann. Who knows, next time we get together I may have you stitching!

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  12. Lovely designs! Excellent instructions! 😊

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  13. It's just wonderful. I love Shibori...the process, the results...and have vowed to do more. Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Thanks, Lynda. Look forward to seeing more of your shibori pieces at Potomac Fiber Arts!

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  14. Great tutorial Candace! Fun to see what you're working with these days. Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I've been enjoying your recent stitch work as well.

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  15. Really clear on what to do! I've been wanting to try it and now you have made it seem so easy. Thanks.

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    1. Kathy, yes, it is easy. Just takes a "little" time.

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  16. I enjoyed this post, Candace. Thank you. I love the look of the shibori fabrics. I haven't tried it, but your instructions are very clear.

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    1. Suztats, thanks. Hope you will give it a try.

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  17. Candy, I love your work and I miss taking classes with you! I'm hoping I can take one in the near future! (This is Lisa, btw.)

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    1. Lisa, miss all my former Corcoran buds. Check out the classes at the Art League School at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Would be fun to have you in a class again!

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  18. I'm impressed for sure. My son lives in Alexandria but not me. Wish I did.

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    1. Chris, plan your next visit around the Art League School's schedule and take one of their fiber classes. I'm teaching shibori in the fall. Would love to see you in class.

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  19. Stunning - I've never tried shibori!

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    1. Thanks, Gill. Hope you will give it a try someday.

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  20. These are stunning, Candy! Beautiful work!

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  21. I'm glad I snooped around and found the beginning of your shibori info posts. The advice on thread is useful, and I'm going to learn that knot, too! Thanks again.

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