Friday, April 16, 2010

Shibori Samples--Mokume

My students have begun working on their shibori samples to learn the basic stitch styles to stitch shaped resist dyeing.  I always start them off with mokume as it is easy to learn.  We work fairly small so they can see results fast.  I tell them that mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them.  When we open their shibori up, the students know who's looks the best and who had some problems and they ask each other about it.  They learn from each others triumphs and errors. 

Mokume is made by creating rows and rows of straight stitch on the fabric.  You need to make a really big knot of doubled sewing thread and then stitch across a single layer of fabric.  The size of your stitches, how far apart the rows are, and how tightly you gather and compress the fabric will change the appearance of the pattern you get.  When I do an example for the students I use black or red thread so they can see it more easily.  You really want to use plain old white sewing thread as it won't stain the fabric and it is easy to break the stitches later (though some prefer using a seam ripper to remove stitches). 

The knots all need to be on the same side as each other.  The tails are pulled up, the fabric is tightened against the knots, and then you wiggle the fabric to align the pleats that form.  You can spray the fabric with a little water to just dampen it and this will help the fabric and thread to swell and it will be easier to tighten the gathers.

Once the fabric is tightly gathered, all the threads have to be tied off.  You split the double thread, untwist it down to the cloth, and then double tie it against the fabric.  You want the knot to sit flush to the fabric to hold the fabric tightly into the folds.   The mokume is then soaked in water to finish swelling the fiber and the stitching as well as to prepare the fabric to accept thy dye more evenly.

After dyeing, the knots are removed and you get to see the pattern you created.  Mokume is said to resemble a fine wood grain pattern ideally.  By lining up your stitches you can make it look like stripes.  Once you get a lot of practice in, you can control the pattern by your stitching.

The piece above was dyed in an indigo vat made from pre-reduced indigo.  I really love how indigo has subtle changes across the folds. 

I also have a slide show on Mokume I made to use with my students that can be found here.


  1. Anonymous7:45 AM

    great instructions and great results