A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shibori Using a Bleach Bath-Quilter Beth

I was anxious to get started with this month's technique, so while I'm waiting on my ProChem order to arrive I thought I would try some shibori using a bleach bath to discharge the fabric. I used information from Sara Newberg King's book "Dye & Discharge." It was great fun, and I got some beautiful pieces of fabric. (I also did some pieces where I sprayed the bleach onto the fabric; those pics are on my personal blog.)

I did all of this work outside (even though it was in the 30s today). You MUST HAVE good ventilation when dealing with the bleach solution and the anti-chlor I used.
I used 2", 3", and 4" PVC poles. These sizes are nice, because they don't take up much room to store. They all nestle inside each other.
This is what my pole looked like when it was wrapped. They all virtually looked the same, so I only took one picture of that. I put the fabric on the diagonal each time. 
After wrapping the pole with my fabric, I placed it in the bleach bath. This is what that looks like. I used 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of hot water. I left the fabric in this solution until the color was just a bit darker than what I wanted. (The fabric continues to discharge even after you take it out of the bleach bath. That happens until you put it into the anti-chlor bath, which is the next step.) Some of the fabric changed color right away; some took longer.
This is one of the poles in the anti-chlor bath. (The scrunched up fabric is at the bottom of the pole. (The dye has colored the anti-chor bath so you can't see the fabric.) The anti-chlor stops the discharge action of the bleach. I used 1 teaspoon of anti-chlor to 2 1/2 gallons of hot water. I left the fabric in this bath for five minutes stirring occasionally. After the anti-chlor bath, I put the fabric into clear water to rinse it and then removed it from the pole. 
This is the piece I wrapped onto the 4" pole. I can't tell you much about this fabric, because I picked it up at a yard sale. All the fabric I used started as solid black fabric. I just love the organic-looking nature of these pieces. 
I wrapped this fabric on the 2" pole. This is fabric I had in my stash, so I can tell you more about it. It is 100% cotton "Jet Black" fabric from Blank. Isn't the rusty/reddish brown gorgeous! You can click on this picture (and then click on it again) to get a closer look. (My picture turned out a bit further away than I had planned.) In the book I was using as a resource, Sara Newberg King says, "If you discover a rich brown under a black fabric, you may want to head back to the store to buy more." I'm thinking she would LOVE this color. (I have ordered another bolt!)
This piece is also of unknown origin. I wrapped it on the 3" pole. It is so interesting how different the designs in each section of this piece are. Even the areas where the black is mostly gone have subtle variations in color and design. I think some of the designs look like feathers.
This last piece is another yard sale find. This was the last piece, so I thought I'd try something new. I gathered, twisted, and tied "fingers" of fabric with string and rubber bands to create the circles on part of the fabric. On the bottom left you can see where I used clothespins and a metal clip to hold the fabric that I accordian pleated.
This is what the fabric looked like before I put it into the bleach bath. As you can see, I didn't use a pole for this one.

I'm really pleased with how the fabrics turned out. I definitely will be doing more of this! I have lots of other ideas for designs. Now it is your turn...


  1. Holy Cow! What gorgeous fabric. Rosalita and I are playing today and guess what we're going to do!! Thanks for doing all the hard stuff. Very impressive.

  2. These look great, I've bleached out some Kona Black fabric before and was surprised that it turned rust colored. I bought some DeColourant a month ago or so that I'm going to use this weekend on some pole-wrapped pieces!

  3. You have some beautiful lines and shapes in those fabrics. One safety note - I've read that bleach discharge should be put in a water bucket first, and then into the anti-chlor.


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