The shibori technique you will learn here is called itajime, and it is a shaped-resist method. This is how it works: the wood blocks that compress the fabric are blocking the dye and create a white undyed shape. We used a similar method to create the checkered tablecloth. Here we will make an alteration to the technique, as we want to achieve a polka-dot pattern. Therefore the wood blocks are round. Plus we will bind them with an F-clamp and not with rubber bands to avoid the marks and achieve a cleaner look. Let's get started!
0.5 meter / 0.5 yard of cotton jersey fabric (make sure you get a fabric that is already in a loop)
Two circular wood blocks, with a diameter smaller than 10 cm (4 in). I used an old set of coasters.
20 g of pre-reduced indigo, 250 g of reducing agent (thiox or hydrosulfate), and 250 g of soda ash, which you can find in this indigo dye kit
19 liter (5 gallon) plastic bucket with a lid
Stick for stirring (make sure it's long enough to reach the bottom of your bucket)
Small container for the foam/"flower"
Sheet of plastic to cover the floor
Shallow pan to hold your fabric
1. Prepare the Dye
First, you need to set up the indigo vat. Just follow the step-by-step instructions we prepared for you here. If you plan to use fabric dye and not natural indigo, you can follow the instructions in the second part of this tutorial.
Once your indigo vat is set, cover the bucket with a lid and let the dye settle from 15 minutes to one hour, which is the optimum length of time. During this time you can fold and clamp your fabric.
2. Fold the Scarf
The fabric for your infinity scarf should be cotton jersey which is already in a loop. Since jersey doesn't need stitching for the hem and the fabric has already the shape of your infinity scarf, no sewing is needed for this project, which makes it easy and fast!
Just make sure the width of your fabric is 50 cm (20 in) and that it is cut straight, and you are set to prepare the fabric for dyeing.
Lay the fabric on your working surface as straight as possible. The width of your fabric should be placed vertically and the open edges should be horizontal.
Now, bring the upper edge downwards and make a horizontal fold of 12.5 cm (5 in).
Bring the lower edge upwards and make a horizontal fold of 12.5 cm (5 in). The two open edges of your scarf will meet in the center at this point.
Fold in the middle to end up with one strip of folded fabric 12.5 cm (5 in) wide.
Now, accordion-fold the strip, going from left to right. Make sure to divide the length of your strip in equal parts. For example, if the length of your fabric is 1 m (40 in), make each fold 11 cm (4.4 in) wide.
Keep on folding the strip back and forth.
Once you've reached the end, make sure the last fold is the same size as the rest. It should work if calculated properly.
Your pile will have a zig-zag look from the side.
3. Clamp the Scarf
Now, your fabric is folded and it is ready to get bound. Place one circular wood block on top of your pile and one on the bottom. Make sure both wood blocks are centered. You also need to make sure the wood blocks are smaller than your folded fabric.
Now open up your F-clamp so that the pile comfortably fits in the opening. Carefully place the pile between the teeth of the F-clamp. Once the fabric is placed centrally, start screwing the F-clamp till the cloth is secured.
4. Dye, Wash and Wear it
Your scarf is folded and clamped and it is ready for the dyeing process. First, thoroughly soak it in water and squeeze the excess water and air out of it.
By now, your vat should have settled. Just remove the lid and scoop the foam/"flower" from the top of the vat, set it aside, and keep it for later.
With your gloves on, submerge the scarf in the dye bath, holding it with the F-clamp. Move the clamp carefully inside the vat to make sure all the unclamped areas are equally colored. Make sure also to open up the folds so that all edges are dyed.
Gently remove your bound fabric from the dye bath.
If you used the natural indigo dye, you will notice that the scarf is green in the beginning, and as it oxidizes it gradually gets blue. This is indigo magic!
Carefully place the lid on the bucket of the dye bath and let your fabric dry and oxidize for about 20 minutes. If you wish to achieve a darker shade of blue, you can repeat the dyeing process.
Once you are happy with the color, unscrew your F-clamp.
Remove the wood blocks and release the fabric from the clamp.
Unfold the fabric and admire your polka dots!
Now, gently hand-wash your scarf with mild detergent in warm water.
And let it dry in the shade.
Iron your scarf and pop it on! You can just place it around your neck and wear it long.
Or if you prefer you can twist it and place it once more around your neck.
Wear it double, and prepare for compliments!
In this tutorial you created a no-sew jersey infinity scarf. Then you learned how to dye it with a variation of the itajime shibori technique, which is a shaped-resist method. You used circular wood blocks to compress the fabric, which by blocking the dye created a polka-dot pattern on your scarf. Plus you bound them with an F-clamp to avoid marks from the rubber bands.