Poo’miikapi Textiles: Tips For Dyeing Yardage

When we dye fabric for a ribbon skirt, regalia or a quilt back, we will be working with yardage. For a ribbon skirt, you’ll need two or three yards depending on your size. For a quilt back we need three to five yards of fabric in a bundle. Dyeing yardage can be a challenge. My approach is to keep it simple. Generally, I don’t design elaborate resist design patterns. My go to design is “Little Canoe” because it’s quick, easy, uses only twine with a few clothespins optional, and it produces excellent results. In a ribbon skirt an elaborate design will get lost under the ribbons, as it will in a quilt back.

The scouring process produces seriously wrinkled cloth especially if dried in a dryer. Don’t panic when the cloth is removed from the dryer in a tangled mess. Have a pair of scissors handy to cut the unraveled strings and take a deep breath. Hanging clothes on a clothesline to dry after scouring makes less of mess but takes a little more time. Discover what works best in your indigo dye practice. Taking the time to press the cloth with a hot steam iron will make it easier to manipulate. Steam pressing five yards of cloth is time consuming but well worth the effort when you begin folding and binding the cloth into a dye bundle.

When making large bundles, make sure your indigo vat will be large enough to totally submerge the cloth. Quilt backs can be dyed in smaller units and pieced. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, so experiment and find your best practice.

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