Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wear Your Baby Wednesday - Shibori Dye Technique aka MORE wrap dyeing!

Remember that time I told you I needed your help to win a free pod conversion?  Well, I won!  Woot!  And I decided I wanted it to be a rainbow zebra carrier.  Not sure why, but seriously, why not?  Well, it's not like there is a rainbow zebra wrap on the market I could just buy, so I had to dye my own.

This wasn't my first time doing a shibori dye.  I've actually done quite a few from back when I was making and selling ring slings, but I had never done a rainbow one and I had never done a whole wrap (those were just ring sling pieces).  My first attempt I had two things go wrong:

  1. I had every color on hand except red and I was too impatient to wait for professional red to come in the mail so I used Dylon dye (which is perfectly safe for baby carriers but not a "professional" dye) for the red and in the wash it bled on the rest of the fabric making anything white pink.
  2. Because a full wrap is so much longer than just a ring sling piece I had too many layers of fabric using my usual 6 inch PVC pipe and the dye didn't penetrate all the way through so only half the wrap got dyed.

So it looked pretty good until it came out of the wash and only half the fabric was dyed (not enough for a pod, but as you can see there was enough for a ring sling!) and what should have been white was pale pink.  So I started over, and this is where you should start if you want to dye a whole wrap!

**Whenever you are handling soda ash or dye wear gloves and a mask**

If you're only dyeing a ring sling piece a 6 inch PVC pipe should be enough (which you can find at Home Depot or Lowes), if you're dyeing a long wrap you'll need something bigger so the wrap doesn't have as many layers wrapped around it.  I used a trash bin. You want a trash bin that is as close to a perfect cylinder as possible.
Getting Supplies
Before you get started you need to get set up.  Essentially your fabric will be wrapped around your cylinder, scrunched together, then you apply your dye.  Obviously some of the dye will drip off which is why I like to do this in the bath tub which is what the tension rod is for.  You need to cut a hole in the center of the lid and the bottom of the trash bin big enough for the tension rod to fit through so you can suspend your trash bin above the tub.  The Sailor is an overachiever and built a structure out of scrap wood to put in the tub.  This really isn't necessary, a tension rod will work just fine.

Once you have your suspension system set up in the tub wash your fabric and soak it in a soda ash solution  for 30 minutes.

Then you're going to wrap your fabric around the cylinder as tightly as you can.  With the trash can the handles got in the way so I couldn't wrap it as tight as I would have liked but it isn't the end of the world.  Once it is wound around your cylinder put zip ties sporadically every couple inches.  These will be the completely white parts after you're done. (I didn't get a good picture doing this around the trash bin, but the very first picture in the collage above shows exactly what I mean)

Once your zip ties are tightened as tight as you can get them squish the fabric together.
With the trash bin it's important you use zip ties so once you squish the fabric together you can re-tighten them since the bin is slightly smaller at the base then it is at the top.

Then you apply dye using squirt bottles.  You could do all one color.  You could do a mixture of colors.  You could do the whole effing rainbow like me! (I used Chinese Red, Golden Yellow, my orange was just a mixture of those two, New Emerald Green, Electric Blue, and Imperial Purple).

Fun tip - to put the dry dye in the bottles (since the opening is so small) I just make little funnels out of wax paper; the dye doesn't stick to the wax paper at all and I just toss each funnel after each color.

If you're doing a full rainbow like I did, in order to get the spacing right first I did a thin stripe of red and purple, then I split the center with thin stripes of yellow and green...
Then I did the orange and the blue in the middle of the two blank parts and filled everything in so the colors were at least somewhat even.  And I saturated the hell out of that fabric.
The zip ties kinda kicked up dye and may have made a pretty cool looking mess...
Then I waited.  For 24 flipping hours.

I hate waiting, but it's worth it, I promise.

Then, since it was already in the tub I just turned on the water to rinse as much of the dye out as possible.

After I rinsed out most of the extra dye I cut off the zip ties, threw it in the washing machine, and washed it with synthropol.  Then I ran it through a whole additional cycle without any detergent just to be sure it was completely rinsed and dried it as usual in the dryer.

And it was beautiful....

There isn't quite as much white as I would have liked (because the trash bin collapses slightly under the zip ties and I couldn't get a "perfect" wrap around the trash bin since it isn't a perfect cylinder) but the colors are exactly what I imagined.  Once it is converted to a pod with a hood that has a zebra mohawk mane and ears it will be more than obvious that it was meant to be a rainbow zebra.

I mailed it off to Shiny Star Designs today but it'll probably be a while since they just opened up custom slots in mid-September.  I'll be anxious to see it, but it isn't like I can really wear W these days anyway because of my stupid back.  But I'll be sure to share pictures as soon as I get the finished carrier!!

As usual, if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!  And in case you didn't notice (and you definitely wouldn't if you're viewing in mobile mode) I added another "tab" to the blog specifically for babywearing related posts (including my other dye tutorials) so go check it out here!  And even if you're only stopping by for this tutorial and have no plans of reading any of my other posts do a girl a favor and leave a comment!  It's nice to know when people are actually reading (and even better actually using the tutorials on) my blog!


  1. Thanks for the wrap dyeing tutorials, I am about to do my first one and can't decide which method to use. Good job on yours they are gorgeous.

  2. Trying this this weekend on my osnaburg!

  3. Thanks, I am trying to do the same thing for a smaller piece of fabric on wood dowelling and it's useful to know I need to rethink the tiny cylinder - time to hit the hardware store.

  4. How would I do this if I wanted just a continuous rainbow without white in between? I absolutely love yours, but want mine to be solid rainbow :)

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