November 13, 2010

Irresistible Resists: Resist Dyeing on Fabric

Eye scarf - shibori hand bound and clamped resist patterns on hand dyed and screen printed hemp silk by Inkyspider

Resist dyeing is an indirect method of creating pattern, texture and design on fabric by using an intermediate material to resist dye applied to the fabric. This could be in the form of a liquid application like wax or other resist pastes, mechanical resists, using binding or stitching, or stencils as in screen printing. As a fabric artist I use all of those techniques and often combine them to create my designs on fabric.

Here are a few examples of resist techniques used in hand dyed textiles from myself and other members of our TAFA Team:

Lily Eyes Itajime wool scarf by Inkyspider

This hand dyed black wool scarf has nine contrasting itajime eye shapes with a screenprinted lily eyes design on the linen cotton applique. Itajime is a shibori technique which creates patterns and motifs by using clamped blocks to resist the dye. Screenprinting is also a method for resisted colour applied to fabric. Wherever the screen has been blocked out the applied colour will not go through the screen fiber thus leaving a design or image on the fabric.

This is how the process looks in the dye bath. I had these wooden shapes made for me by a local woodworker and use plastic clamps so that they don't rust in the salty dye water.

This is a beautiful example of stitched shibori resist on fabric:

Croton Leaves Shibori skirt by Dyedianadye

To create these beautiful leaf designs a maki-age stitch and bind resist technique was used before the fabric was dyed brown. Once the binding and stitching was released to reveal the design the skirt was immersed in a chinese red and golden yellow dyed bath. Shibori can be used to create an infinite amount of repetitive patterns or something more representational like the leaves in this skirt.

Batik is one of the liquid materials used to apply resist to fabric. Another would be resist pastes made of rice flour, potato or corn starch. These resists are applied wet and once they dry the dye can be applied.

This lovely set of napkins have been patterned using a wax resist batik:

Set of four yellow batik napkins by Susan Itkin Batik

Hand applied resist pastes retain a lovely line quality. They can be spontaneous and stylized like these napkins or more detailed and realistic like some of Susan's other work.

If you take a few minutes to look through these shops on Etsy you will find more examples of resist dyed techniques used in the surface design of fabric.

This article has been prepared by Morgen of Inkyspider on Etsy.


  1. There are always great surprises using these techniques! i love surprises! Thank you morgen for sharing!

  2. Thank-you for stopping by Hagar. I love your fabric jewelry BTW.


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