Make One-of-a-Kind Fabric

Fabric to Dye For

I have always loved unusual, one-of-a-kind fabrics. If it's hand-dyed, hand-printed, embellished, or has a unique construction, I pretty much have to have it. If it's from a faraway exotic place, well that's even better. I'm intrigued by how these stunning fabrics are made and increasingly want to try these techniques at home to make my own unique cloth. Dyeing, fabric painting, printmaking, beading, and embroidery can turn the most humble cloth into something extraordinary. While I am very comfortable with hand-embellishment techniques, I am just starting to experiment with fabric paints and dyes.

Students at the Hèrè jè Center in Mali create colorful fabrics dyed using wax-resist techniques.
 Students at the Hèrè jè Center in Mali create colorful fabrics dyed using wax-resist techniques.

Fabrics dyed with kakishibu.
  Fabrics dyed with kakishibu.


In our new eMag, Colorways: Artisan Hues in Fiber and Fabric, I learned about dyeing techniques plus a whole lot more. From a trip to Mexico to explore natural dyeing traditions to visiting a craft cooperative in Mali, West Africa, that helps women support themselves by creating beautiful hand-dyed cotton, you will travel the world as you flip through the digital pages. The interactive elements of the eMag bring people and places to life with video interviews, slide shows, project downloads, and more.

For example, the eMag introduced me to a really interesting Japanese dyeing technique called kakishibu. Made from the juice of unripe persimmons, it is applied to fabric by dipping or brushing and is especially ideal for dyeing silk. The cool thing about it is that it reacts to sunlight, so you can create interesting sun patterns on the fabric. You'll get all the information you need to get started with this simple technique that creates fabric with warm brown tones, from pinkish tan to chestnut brown. It's a great technique for dyeing newbies like me because it's so easy to do. You don't need heat or special dyeing equipment-just cloth, juice, and sun. The resulting fabric can turn into a fabulous sewing project.

I can't wait to try out some of the techniques at home. And if you are a general "fiberholic," then you will find lots more information on dyeing yarn and fibers for knitting, crochet, and weaving in addition to cloth. For more dyeing techniques, history, and information, check out Colorways or learn something new in one of our other exciting eMags and take your projects to new artistic heights.

Happy sewing,


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Sewing Fabric & Fabric Basics