Indigo dyeing is a continuous learning process. Here are some helpful tips I would like to pass along:
1). GLOVES MATTER: If you are going to wear gloves during dyeing (some people don’t). I would recommend well-fitting dishwashing gloves (check the size). I used thin latex gloves my first time dyeing and have never used them again. A lot of dye snuck in though the top, and by the end of the session my hands were completely dyed. My advice, the higher, the better. Note: Dishwashing gloves can be reused even though they will be stained / just wash them in warm water after use.
2). PREP YOUR TOOLS: If you are using any dowels or pipes for Arashi shibori, make sure they are clean and dry. Some wooden dowels (especially those that have been stained) can crock color onto your white fabric. I recommend testing them beforehand by soaking them in warm water and rubbing them with a white cloth. Speaking from experience, it is really disappointing to unwrap your cloth to find wood stains. This also applies to previously used rubber bands, clamps, and clothespins, which should always be rinsed and wiped down after use. The Indigo can rub off onto clean fabric if the tools aren’t clean. Note: you can re-use stained rubber bands, just test them first.
3). TAKE YOUR TIME: It’s so easy to rush through things when you are working. If you take your time you will get better results, I promise. Think about your designs beforehand. If you are making pleats, make sure they are even (maybe even iron each one) and if you are stitching, make sure the stitches are straight. Be patient with the color. If you desire a darker shade, put in the time. You may have to dye your piece several times.
4). GET A TIGHT SEAL: When you practice Itajime shibori, make sure you get a tight seal on your cloth before you submerge your pieces into the Indigo bath. This will prevent the dye from bleeding underneath your blocks.
5). DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP: Learning to dye fabric can be challenging at times. Blotches happen, certain fabric contents don’t absorb dye properly, and sometimes the way you prepared your fabric just doesn’t turn out like you expected. IT’S OK…Each piece is unique. Dyeing should be fun!
6). AFTER THE DYE: I know it’s tempting to throw your creations into the dryer after you rinse them (in cold), but don’t. Always line dry your work to protect it from fading. This will also prevent your dryer from turning a light shade of blue. If you don’t have an outdoor space and hang your pieces in your bathroom, make sure to protect the floor from any drips.