I'm happy to announce that I have a new sponsor and not only does she have a wonderful online store, but she sells something that can be hard to find and that I need and use daily. That's a pretty tall order, but it's true. My newest sponsor is r0ssie and along with selling her wonderful, handcrafted items, she's also just started carrying plexiglass shapes and clamps for itajime. Itajime is a Japanese dye technique that's a subset of a bigger group of techniques called shibori. If you've ever tie-dyed anything then you have done shibori. Itajime is a very specific method that uses clamped shapes to create patterning. Like in this quilt:
All the circles in the quilt are dyed onto the fabric, not appliqued. The process is amazingly simple. All you need to do is sandwich a bit of fabric in between two same sized shapes. You keep the shapes in place by using "C" clamps. When you immerse the fabric in dye the fabric covered by the shape remains unchanged while the surrounding fabric is dyed. Pretty cool, huh?
When I've mentioned this technique before, folks have contacted me asking where to get the clamped shapes. My best advice has been to contact a local plastics fabricator and see if they'd be willing to make shapes out of scrap plexiglass. Although I've not had a problem finding someone to do this for me locally, others have not been so lucky. That's all in the past because now we have r0ssie. Yay!
I wanted to introduce my newest sponsor in some significant way, so I decided to craft something special using her shapes and clamps to pattern my fabric. I thought a fair amount about what I wanted to make. I didn't really want to make another Twinkle mini quilt. That didn't seem unique enough. I didn't want to pattern and dye fabric for a pillow. I frankly didn't know what I wanted to make. And then fate and the weather stepped in. Fate in the form of this article in the latest issue of Stitch Magazine.
For those of you who haven't gotten a copy of the fall issue of Stitch, there's a wonderful feature on a San Francisco based designer and dyer who makes a line of clothing called Ocelot. I'd read an article about this women a few years ago in Fiberarts magazine and loved the simple, graphic patterning she dyes using itajime. Seeing this article in Stitch reminded me of how much I love her work.
Then it got a little colder. Not bone chilling or anything. This is Texas after all, but fall was definitely in the air. So I started thinking about scarves. Put the two influences together and you get this:
I clamped two lengths of black fabric with a pair of 4" circles and discharged(bleached) the background. I removed the clamps and over dyed the fabric green. The beauty of working with black fabric is that I didn't have to keep the shapes clamped in the over dye bath because the black circles, being darker than the green dye, were not altered by the dye bath.
I sewed the lengths together and backed it with a soft, homespun green plaid.
I'm in love with my new scarf and even more in love with my new plexiglass shapes. I've already ordered two more pairs of 4" circles.
Having purchased plexiglass shapes from a local vendor, I can tell you that the prices for these are really good. Even better is the fact that r0ssie's is one stop shop for itajime supplies because you can order your "C" clamps at the same time you buy your shapes. The selection of shapes includes two sizes of circles, two sizes of squares, a 3" triangle as well as bundles of squares, circles and mixed shapes.
This is perfect way for you to try this technique without spending hours searching for the supplies.
Go ahead. Order some shapes and clamps form r0ssie and then head over to Dharma Trading Company to buy a starter Procion MX dye kit complete with instructions. They even carry black cotton fabric suitable for discharge. By this time next week you'll have you very own Ocelot-inspired scarf.