How To Choose The Best Colour For Shibori Stitch Resist Success

I receive many emails asking me questions about shibori stitch resist, particularly what is the best colour for shibori.

shibori stitch resist dye colour comparison
Shibori stitch resist design in 3 different colours. The pattern is most definite with dark, strong colours

I thought I would share some of these FAQs with you and my answers. They may be the very questions you are asking yourself. This will help you in your shibori work. It is always good to know others out there are having the same struggles!!

The image at the top shows the same shibori pattern in 3 different colours. I hope it speaks for itself. How the pattern is most clear and definite with the darker colours. It is still lovely in the yellow but much softer. I will show more examples in this blog.

Tania and Winnie wrote to me about unsuccessful, very faint results from dyeing. The lack of success was related to the colour of the dye chosen.

Queries about the best colour for Shibori Stitch Resist

From Tania

Question I’m trying stitch shibori but failed terribly. I think I did something wrong. I did soak my fabric after stitching overnight before adding to my dye bath. Was I supposed to keep the fabric dry before putting it in the dye bath?

Answer You need to always soak the work before dyeing so you did right there. There are many small factors that can go wrong, the fabric used, the dye used, how well you pulled up the stitching.

Question I used pomegranate as a dye. Organic cotton mordanted with soya. Maybe the pomegranate is not a strong dye for this technique? There were faint white marks where the stitch was. Would like to try another, maybe a different dye what do you think?

Answer I think you have guessed right, you will get better results with stronger colours. Generally yellow is a little pale to get good results with shibori stitch resist. It can work well with clamping or binding where the area of resist is greater. If you like natural dyes use a stronger colour like madder, logwood or indigo (or rhubarb root if you like gold). Onion skins can work well too.

After all that stitching you need to be sure all that work will show clearly!

From Winnie

Question I tried a sampling of your designs…shell, starfish, etc.  I pulled the stitching TIGHT and tied off all threads three times. After dying, I pulled out the stitches and have only seen a small disappointing sample.  On further examination I do see a faint outline on some of the designs. I believe the fault is that I didn’t have a dark enough dye for contrast. I thought an aqua blue would suggest the seaside!

Answer I often get people who have a faint design. Loose weave fabric is often a reason to get an indistinct design but more often it is the colour. Choosing a strong colour for shibori is always worthwhile after all that work. I attach a photo of a piece done by someone else who corresponded with me. She dyed it with a pale aqua but then went on to quilt and embroider on top, hope it may inspire you.

Embellished shibori stitch resist
Jan Moorhouse’s embellished and embroidered stitch resist shibori

Here are my 5 top tips about colour of dye to use for shibori:

Tip 1. If you want to use blue, indigo always gives great results. Or use a good strong blue royal or navy blue.

Tip 2. Natural dyes I get fabulous results with indigo, madder, logwood, cochineal and onion. In natural dyes again avoid soft yellows like pomegranate.

Tip 3. Avoid bright or soft yellows, and other soft pastel colours generally. In Procion or Rit dyes oranges, golds and strong greens are always successful.

Tip 4. If you do get pale results you can always embroider and enhance your work with stitch!

Tip 5. If you love the pale colours use the more definite techniques. Maki-age, ne maki and boshi shibori. The binding and wrapping type of stitch.

maki age shibori on a pale green
Illustrates how maki-age, a binding type of stitch, makes a sharper pattern on pale colours

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