The Zero Waste Lifestyle often has a lot to do with making things for yourself in order to reduce waste. So, if you’re thinking of going zero-waste, get ready to get a little crafty. For creating clothing, that means attempting to make each part your outfit’s construction biodegradable while limiting the amount of water used in the process.
But, HOLD ON. Don’t walk out on us just yet. “Zero” waste is an intimidating name but you don’t need to beat yourself up over the plastic button on your latest Forever21 purchase. You don’t need to buy a sewing machine and create all of your own clothes. Maybe just buy less of it? (Think about it like fast food! Tempting, but maybe not today!) The goal is to reduce your footprint. Truly, There are many beautiful lessons that this lifestyle teaches and one of them is learning to love and cherish what we have.
Some other common zero-waste clothing hacks is to shop second hand and reduce new purchases – but what if you could find the balance between both and make old clothes new again?
Today we talk about a fun solution for creating and reviving clothing – a little practice called Shibori.
It is a great marriage of earth and art. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Shibori is a Japanese textile art. It is a technique that creates unique patterns by the infinitely many ways of binding, twisting, folding and crumpling cloth then dipping it in natural dye. It is most commonly seen dyed in Japan’s popular natural dye, Indigo. A quick google search will show you just how breathtaking the results are.
I could just print this out and frame it. I was always tantalized by such patterns and so I was happy to attend a quick workshop on it. It was about three to four hours of folding, stitching (and re-stitching) rubber-banding and finally dye dipping. Nothing short of a Sunday afternoon well-spent with a room full of lovely new friends put into motion by the workshop’s darling host and founder of World of Patterns, Luisa Jimenez. In her own time she crafts wonderful patterns into beautiful and unique clothing. (She’s the one in the stripes!)
The Natural Dye
Dye (apparently) can be made from many things. It is an art on its own. It blew my mind that you could create a pink dye with avocado seeds or a beige dye from Talisay leaves. (I almost wanted to boil everything I could find and see what water the color would turn.)
In our time dying the fabrics, we learned that natural dye only stick to organic fabrics. This highlighted another great aspect of it. This property meant that in order to revive old clothes, they cannot be made of synthetic materials. (Shibori was often practiced with silk, hemp or organic cotton) And because of that clause, it makes it more advantageous to buy clothes made of organic materials. Cyclical concepts, you see?
The patterns possible with Shibori are endless. You could grab a coin, twist the cloth around that coin and then rubber-band everything into place. You could stitch on the side or maybe fold the cloth into an accordion and secure with two pieces of wood and some clips. My closest association to it would probably be tie-dye – without the synthetic dyes.
At this point none of us really knew how our fabrics would turn out. Some spent an eternity making each stitch perfect and others just went crazy with the rubber bands. We left them to soak in the dye while we hoped for the best.
We made use of Talisay leaf dye to make our creations. Though my patterns needed some practice (That’s mine, the cute, short one in the middle), I was nonetheless inspired by my experience. I always enjoy watching how-to videos in order to know how things work and this was an adventure in educating myself about the faboulosity of natural fabric dyes and how Shibori can marry them into usable fabrics. It’s a great way to bring life to old clothing or create pieces of your own.
Here are some more fabrics dyed in Indigo this time. Done by Luisa herself. Now if you want to make your own experiments using Indigo, the first question is always “Where do I buy the dye?” I searched on amazon and found the product + shipping to be quite expensive. Then it just so happened that I had a Tokyo trip the week after and discovered Tokyu Hands! It’s a multi-level store with all sorts of things (if you’re into crafts you’ll go wild) and I found a pack of Japanese Indigo. The pack looks like the one in the top right of the photo below.
If you’ve ever thought of creating your own clothes with natural fabric dyes then maybe you can play around with the art of Shibori. Try out a workshop with Luisa or set up a Shibori party with friends! You don’t have to be transitioning to zero waste or looking to reduce it, you could just be out to have a little fun! (And I’m hoping we have the same tita definition of that!)
Note: We did one more round for this group of (now) Shibori enthusiasts as Luisa was kind enough to invite us all back! This time we dyed fabrics in Indigo. Check it out!