I am SO excited to share with you one of my absolute FAVORITE ways to personalize my sewing projects! I think you're going to love my favorite faux-shibori technique.
First - confession: I am totally a solids girl. Love 'em. I do love fabrics with pattern, but finding the right combination of solids really makes my heart sing. I love that when I use solids, I can customize them, modify them, and make them entirely my own.
So, I was so excited when Riley Blake offered to send me some of their Confetti Cottons to try out! Guys, this fabrics are AWESOME. I selected several colors, the quality is so consistent, and the feel soft but sturdy - and they have a great variety of colors, both in brights and in neutrals.
I dreamed up my latest free sewing pattern, the Indigo Skies Tote, to highlight this method. I wrote a blog post HERE about that project, or hop directly over here to get your free copy delivered to your inbox!
Onto my Faux Shibori technique!
My book Transfer Embellish Stitch (coauthored with Sarah Case) showcases a product that I am in love with and find myself reaching for again and again. It's called DeColourant, and it's made by Jacquard Products. DeColourant is a paste that reacts with the dye, and it removes dye from fabric but doesn't compromise its structural integrity (unlike bleach). And, my favorite part - how the original fabric was dyed influences how the color changes when you apply deColourant. For example, two different green fabrics of the same hue from two different manufacturers might react totally differently to deColourant. It's best to test a little swatch of fabric before you dive in to a full project to see what color it changes. Isn't the variety amazing??
Onto my Faux Shibori technique. If you aren't familiar, shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that pairs fabric folding and manipulation with indigo dyeing. [Pinterest shibori rabbit-hole here!] I absolutely love the look of shibori dyeing, but it can be a messy process! So, instead of dyeing a white piece of fabric blue, my faux shibori technique removes dye from already blue fabric.
For this technique, I selected a variety of blue cottons from Riley Blake's Confetti Cottons line (Cadet, Cornflower, and Deep Water, and Riley Teal). I divided the cottons up into two piles, each with 4 different shades of blue. I used a "paper doll" technique on one pile and an "accordion fold" technique on the other. Here's what I mean by that...
Paper Doll Technique
Maybe you can imagine a chain of paper dolls, or maybe you made them yourself. This technique uses one of my secret weapon craft supplies - freezer paper. Freezer paper is CHEAP, readily available (check the paper goods isle in your grocery), and so useful. Freezer paper has a shiny plastic coating on one side, and a matte paper coating on the other. Freezer paper can be cut with scissors or craft knives and used as a simple stencil for painting or dyeing fabrics. It's as simple as cutting out your design, placing your freezer paper stencil shiny side down on your fabric, and ironing for a handful of seconds until it's secure and adhered to your fabric. The freezer paper stays in place and you can dab on your fabric paint or deColourant quickly and easily.
You surely could be precise, but I prefer the quick and dirty version for a beautiful geometric effect on your fabric. I simply tear off a length of freezer paper roughly the size of my project, accordion fold it with the folds every 1" apart or so (no measuring- I just go for it), and then I use scissors to cut triangles and shapes along each folded edge. There really are no rules for this - I try to vary the angles of my cuts and intersperse rectangle shapes with triangle shapes typically, but for the handmade look of this technique, there's no need to be precise.
I then layer this cut out freezer paper on top of my fabric with the shiny side touching the fabric (this image shows it straddled across 3 fabric strips), use my iron on a cotton setting without steam, and press. Be careful to press and not drag, so that the iron doesn't catch any of the paper corners.
Place the freezer paper-ed fabric on a plastic tablecloth and use a foam brush to dab on the deColourant. You'll want it damp, but not totally gloopy and piled on. Allow the fabric to dry, carefully peel off the stencil (set it aside), and then iron your fabric.
Use a cotton setting on your iron and iron the fabric - you'll notice that the longer your iron is on the deColourant, the more the color will shift. Experiment with different heat settings and ironing lengths to get the effect you like.
Wash out the fabric. I hand wash mine in the sink with a touch of dish soap. Hang to dry.
Accordion Fold / Brush On Method
Ok, that's not a very technical name -- but, this gives a great organic striped look to your fabric. This technique works best for smaller pieces and strips. I just accordion folded a piece of fabric, and used binder clips to keep it folded as I brushed on the deColourant onto the folded edges. I wasn't particularly careful with the folding or the brushing, because I wanted an organic look. Brush the product onto both sides, move around the binder clips as needed.
Hang to dry. Then use a cotton setting on your iron and iron the fabric - you'll notice that the longer your iron is on the deColourant, the more the color will shift. Experiment with different heat settings and ironing lengths to get the effect you like.
Tips for the Indigo Skies Tote Pattern
I used both of these techniques in my free pattern, the Indigo Skies Tote. I decided to cut each 1/4 yard strip of blue fabric in half, so I ended up with two pieces of each color that were about 9" x 20". I used half of the blues with the paper doll method, and half of the blues with the accordion fold method, to create a nice even distribution of pattern and color.
How fun is that?? I love using this product, part of why I love it is that I can create my own designs on fabric and not rely on someone else's designs to create the look that I want. It also doesn't impact the hand of the fabric, and the pattern is visible from both sides. Here are a couple photos of project I've made with this technique (some are from our book, Transfer Embellish Stitch).