I am super excited to share this DIY shibori pole dyeing technique and easy tutorial because it’s deceptively easy – and creates such gorgeous, hand dyed fabric. I really appreciate hand dyed and one-of-a-kind textiles, but for some reason I didn’t really ride the wave of the shibori techniques trend. I much preferred the more organic and flowing vibe of ice dyeing (or even the simplicity of dip dyeing). However one kind of Shibori dyeing caught my eye: pole dyeing. Pole dyeing creates an organic kind of design that is reminiscent of ice dyeing – but without having to buy (or make) buckets of ice. But just like ice dyeing, it’s a “set it and forget it” kind of craft project. Here’s the scoop on my DIY shibori pole dyeing experiment!
Supplies for Shibori Pole Dyeing:
I asked Hubby if we had any old pipe or anything and, being the sweetie that he is, immediately rustled up an old PVC plumbing pipe from underneath the bunkie. It was dirty so I washed it, but it still looks really gross – sorry about that!
- Some kind of pole or tube that can be soaked in water
- Natural white fabric (like a cotton or linen – something soft and not too thick, so you can wrap it and scrunch it easily)
- Soda ash
- Procion dye
- Elastic bands
- Cup measure
- Bucket for dyeing in (something with measurements – like this one)
The exact dye color I used is this one:
How to Prepare Fabric for Shibori Pole Dyeing:
Choose a natural fabric, like a soft cotton or linen/cotton blend. I used a thin cotton voile which was really easy to wrap – and will make a pretty blouse or scarf. Launder the fabric to remove any sizing. I had two meters, but I should have only used one meter for the length and diameter of the pole. I folded my fabric in half and wrapped it around the pole – it was still longer than the tube so I pushed it up until most was on the pole. Then I wrapped the string around it randomly. Finally, I then scrunched the fabric up the pole even more and, with each scrunch, I secured the scrunched position of the fabric with rubber bands.
Licking it is optional (I clearly didn’t get all of the interesting grime off this tube, lol):
Here is a close up photo of my scrunching so you can see:
I created a dye bath in a bucket which fit my length of pipe perfectly. This is a Vileda bucket from the grocery store – it has liters marked on the inside which is perfect for dyeing. I couldn’t find the exact one online (it’s pretty old) but this bucket is the same size with measurements on it. I poured warm water into my dye bath – enough to cover the fabric wrapped pole. I then added the sofa ash and really let it dissolve well, before also adding salt. The amount you need depends on your dye bath and its size. According to Dharma Trading, you want to use 1/6 cup of Soda Ash and 1-1/2 cup salt for every 1-1/2 gallons of water. Finally, I dissolved the dye in my bucket – 1 tbsp of dye per 3 gallons of water is the suggested amount, but I added a bit more just to get it even inkier.
Then I set the wrapped pole in the dye bath and let it dye overnight. You might have to weigh it down if your pole/tube is too light and floats. In the morning I rinsed the dye off in cold water, cut the thread and unwrapped the fabric. Definitely wear gloves for this messy step!
I tossed it in the washing machine (on cold with regular detergent) and – voila! A gorgeous design that feels organic, like rippling waves or crackling ice.
I’m in love! And because this is such a nice lightweight cotton, I want to sew up a nice top for next summer with it. That would be soooo good with beige linen shorts.
The only problem was that the dye only reached half of the fabric – the outside meter. The second, inner meter didn’t really get much color. It’s not a problem – the fabric can be re-wrapped and dyed again, with the previously dyed part inside the wrapped roll this time, or cut off and dyed some other way. For this size and diameter of the pole I used (it was 2 1/4″ D, cut to length to fit into my bucket) , only one meter can get dyed at a time. But knowing that, my next pole dyeing experiments will go much more smoothly.
Have you tried any Shibori? Do you think you’ll give pole dyeing a try?