How-To: Indigo Dyed Fabric


Indigo is one of the oldest known plant-derived dyes, with historical evidence of use dating back to 3000 B.C. in Asia and Africa. It's also the only natural dye that is capable of creating a “true blue,” and can be harvested from hundreds of different plant sources by soaking leaves in water and extracting the chemical released in the water to make dye. In case you'd like to skip the indigo harvest, our new Indigo Dye Kit provides all the essentials for creating beautifully patterned fabrics. Employing the ancient Japanese technique of shibori, you can create one-of-a-kind designs by binding, folding, twisting, and compressing the natural fabric of your choice before dyeing. Once your project is complete, your indigo-dyed fabric is ready to transform into kitchen linens, scarves, festive bunting, or an alternative to wrapping paper, as shown above. 

What you’ll need

Indigo Dye Kit: includes natural indigo dye and dyeing agents, rubber bands, instructions, and latex gloves
Fabric made from natural fibers (dye will not adhere to man-made textiles)
5 gallon bucket or container
4 gallons of hot tap water
Large bowl  

1. Fill a 5 gallon bucket or container with about 4 gallons of hot tap water.

2.  Place the entire package of indigo (the paper wrapper will dissolve) into the container and stir gently. Repeat with soda ash and oxygen reducer, making sure to scrape the sides to remove any agents that may have stuck. 

3. Wait 30-45 minutes, or until the water is yellow, for the indigo and auxiliaries to mix and settle. A purple foam or indigo “flower” will form on the surface of the water when the dye is ready. Remove the foam with a spoon or paper plate, or push it to the side of the container. 

4. Dampen all fabric to be dyed so that it is evenly soaked, but not dripping wet. 

5. Using rubber bands, bind, twist, and tie your desired fabric to create patterns. 

6. Wearing rubber gloves, lower the fabric into the container and gently rotate under the surface of the water for 1-2 minutes. Remove carefully to minimize dripping.

7. The fabric will turn a yellow-green color and then to blue as it oxidizes in the air. Allow the fabric to turn completely blue for about 20 minutes. 

8. You may repeat the dyeing process several times until the right shade is reached. 

9. Let the fabric sit or hang overnight, then rinse any excess dye and remove the rubber bands (if used).

10. Wash the fabric with mild soap and rinse. Some blue dye will come off during this step. 

11. Fill a bowl with warm tap water and 1/2 cup vinegar, then place the fabric in the vinegar solution for 5 minutes to set the dye.

12. Wash the fabric a second time and turn it into your desired creation! 

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