DIY INDIGO Beach Sheet

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This weekend we experimented with shibori, the art of shaped resist dyeing to create our own indigo beach sheet. The process involved folding, binding and compressing a bed sheet, then dipping it into a vat of indigo dye. On Sunday we went to Venice beach to collect shark teeth and our new sheet served as the perfect place for us to rest in between trips to the ocean.

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Here’s what you’ll need:
Indigo dye kit (comes w/ rubber bands, gloves, indigo, reducing agent)
5 gallon bucket with a lid (we used a large tub to fit the sheet)
A long stick for stirring
A small container for removing and storing top foam
A shallow pan to place your fabric in while oxidizing, or you can hang on a clothes line
A pole or pvc pipe to wrap fabric on
A plastic sheet to go underneath your vat
White fabrics (cotton and linen absorb color best)
Preparing your dye vat:
Fill a bucket or tub with 4 gallons of luke warm water. Add the indigo dye and stir gently with the long stirring stick. While stirring, slowly add the reduction agent (hydrosulfate) and the soda ash (thiox) into the vat. Once the vat is well mixed, cover with lid or trash bag for 20 minutes (this is a good time to start folding your fabric). After the vat has settled, remove the lid and scrape the top layer of foam into a separate pan so that your vat is clump-free.
Dyeing your sheet:
First, rinse your sheet with water (we used the hose since we were outside). Next, fold and bind your sheet with rubber bands in the pattern of your choosing. We chose the pole method, more pattern ideas come with the kit. Wearing rubber gloves, submerge the bound fabric into the dye vat. Leave the sheet in longer for darker shades of indigo, or briefly dip for lighter shades. When finished, unwrap and hang on a clothes line or set aside in a separate container to let oxidize. The color will be light green at first, but will turn to indigo within minutes of the outside air hitting it.
Some tips:
Wear clothing you don’t care about. Trey went sans shirt and shoes, and I wore some old dive booties that I didn’t mind getting dye on. Also, for a large sheet, you will need a tub since the 5 gallon bucket is too small to fully soak the sheet with the dye. We used a galvanized garden tub, which sort-of worked, but we had to lean it in its side to fully submerge the bound sheet. Lastly, hand wash your sheet in a tub of water and gentle detergent (we used seventh generation) and squeeze the excess indigo from the sheet. This will prevent the sheet from bleeding later on.
And voila! A bright, unique beach sheet that you dyed trying to do (har, har). We made a day of it and dyed t-shirts and pillow cases too.
  • Taylor Hearts Travel

    Great DIY post. I hope my attempt turns out as good as yours!

    • nic

      Thanks Taylor, it’s a fun DIY :)