In the Dye Studio: Planning a New Alabama Chanin Dress, Resist Dyeing with Indigo

Up and Coming: Sew a Hawthorn with Jessie Reading In the Dye Studio: Planning a New Alabama Chanin Dress, Resist Dyeing with Indigo 4 minutes Next Stitch Exchange: Seam Allowance Year 2

It's the middle of Summer and I have the deep desire to create a new indigo dyed Alabama Chanin inspired dress. Last Summer's dress taught me so much about the process and practice of Alabama Chanin, I can't wait to see what this Summer's dress will bring.

This year, I am dedicated to the practice of doing instead of over-thinking what I make. There are times when the creative process is stopped by too many choices. And of course there is the fact that I would like the perfect dress, because I am going to spend quite a bit of time on it. Though then again, really, there is the distinct possibility that I am going to like and dislike something about all of them. All of which will add to my learning process and affect future pieces. That is - as soon as I actually get going. A deadline certainly helps. Next week, I am leaving for Minnesota for 2 weeks. Up to this point, I've been dreamy about the whole thing. Wishy-washy. It's time to get serious. So in the end, it isn't swatching, sampling, looking out into the forest. It's the deadline of a plane ticket.

Here's what I know. I want the dress to be indigo dyed. I want the dress to incorporate shibori. I would also like elements of Natalie's design to run through the dress. I want to incorporate more than just the use of her pattern and two pieces of her cotton jersey. And, here's the kicker, I want it done by August when she comes to teach at Heath.


I made a few samples last week where I stitch resisted one of Natalie's stenciled swatches and dyed it with indigo. While I was happy to see the results as a part of the progress, I can't say that this is exactly what I am looking for. Back to the drawing board. 


Recently, I acquired a collection of DVDs directed by shibori scholar, Yoshiko Wada. I turned to her DVD Arimatsu Narumi Shibori: Celebrating 400 Years of Japanese Artisan Design (available at Verb). Mind blown. This DVD provides a comprehensive look into 18 different styles of shibori all demonstrated by different shibori masters. Needless to say, I have more inspiration than I know what to do with. Though the question still stands, how to incorporate this work with Natalie's work. 

For the last few months, I have been gathering images on Pinterest of indigo dyed fabrics and clothing shapes I am drawn to, with close attention to details as to where print falls on the body; the size of it, the repeat, and the placement. I've been loving the incoming trend of  hectic, energetic, and colorful combinations of African fabrics, stripes, geometric patterns, and polka dots.

To help sort my thoughts, I created a new board on Pinterest dedicated to this project called Planning: Indigo Alabama Chanin-esque Dress. I gathered and repinned a bunch of ideas from my other Pinterest boards so I could hone my attention. Being able to see the images collectively reflected what shades of blue I am currently drawn to, placement of pattern, and so on. Reviewing this has definitely helped refine my direction.

I visited Natalie's website to look at stencils and am amazed at the addition of new DIY kits she is offering. At which point, of course, I wanted to drop my whole idea, and dive into a kit, especially this naturally dyed one. Pulling myself away, I headed towards the section of her website I intended to visit, Stenciling. There are quite a few contenders. These are the top 2, June's Spring Stencil and Little Folks: 



 Today, I am going to cut out my dress, start resist wrapping the dress. Order my stencils from Alabama Chanin. And start dyeing my dress in indigo. Let's see what happens. 

-- kristine