Inspired by a traditional Japanese textile, this versatile accessory is just a length of fabric and a bottle of dye away.
Photography: Johnny Miller
Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2012
To create traditional Japanese textiles using the shibori technique, a plant was often plucked, fermented, and reduced to make an indigo dye, and then a piece of fabric was folded, compressed, or twisted, bound, and dipped into it. Consider this project a shortcut: To achieve almost the same effect, you need little more than a length of fabric (nearly any fiber will work), a bottle of blue dye, and a few plastic bins.
The result is a lightweight scarf perfect for crisp fall days that can be wrapped, dangled around your shoulders, or even worn as a belt. The look is elegant but also as loose as the process itself. Choosing a Fabric Different fabrics soak up color in different ways. Experiment with scraps of fabric, the widths of the accordion folds, and the dilution of the dye.
These four scarves are made of, from far left, cotton, bamboo rayon, rayon, and crepe de chine silk. The longer you dip your scarf, the more likely the dye will bleed.
Resources: Cotton gauze scarf, 15" by 60", bamboo rayon scarf, 11" by 60", rayon scarf, 11" by 60", and crepe de chine scarf, 15" by 60", dharmatrading.com. Liquid dye, in Denim Blue, Royal Blue, and Aquamarine, and dye fixative, ritdye.com.
3 plastic bins
Accordion-fold scarf. Press with iron, and secure with clothespins. (If scarf is wider than bins, fold in half widthwise after accordion-folding.)
Mix dye in a bin according to manufacturer's instructions. Dip scarf's folded edge in dye (the resulting stripe will be twice as wide as the dip).
Dip scarf's folded edge in another bin filled with cold water to rinse it.
Mix fixative in another bin according to manufacturer's instructions. Dip folded edge in fixative to set.
Clip accordion-folded scarf to a clothesline or a pants hanger hung from a broom handle suspended between chairs. Place newspaper or a drop cloth underneath scarf to protect surfaces. Let hang until completely dry, about 1 day.