Traditional Japanese Shibori is a compression-based, resist dyeing method where the pressure of the fabric against itself or another object prevents the dye from affecting the compressed part of the fabric. Compression methods include pole wrapping, folding and blocking, looping a binding thread around a section of fabric, stitching a pattern thread into the fabric, and then pulling and knotting the pattern thread. Each technique produces a different pattern style and can be combined to produce an infinite variety of results.
Woven Shibori is a loom-based adaptation of the stitched pattern thread method. Instead of stitching the pattern after the fabric is woven, the pattern threads are woven into the fabric as a supplementary weft while the fabric is woven. As patterns are at the heart of weaving, it is much easier to produce a pattern by weaving it into the fabric than replicating that same pattern by hand stitching or needle weaving after the fabric is off the loom.
Once the fabric is off of the loom, the ends are finished, the pattern threads are pulled and knotted, and the excess ends of the tied-off pattern threads are trimmed to minimize their possible interference in the dyeing process. The pulling and knotting of the pattern threads compress the fabric into a complex set of pleats. You can use any number of techniques for the dyeing process, including immersion, space-dyeing, hand-painting with dyes, or any combination that you can imagine. Traditional Shibori dyeing used Indigo dyes. However, I generally use fiber-reactive or acid dyes. Once the dye is set, the piece should be rinsed until all of the un-set dye is rinsed out.
After the dyed piece is dry, the pattern threads are removed, and the piece is rinsed one final time with some added fragrance-free fabric softener. This relaxes the pleats in the fabric and helps the fibers to relax and soften. Following this rinse, the piece is dried flat, ironed, and ready for sale. Depending on the fiber type and size, the complete process's elapsed time is 3-5 days.
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