Indigo studio!


Since the snow is gone (yeah!), I began indigo dyeing. It was finally warm enough during the May long weekend to set up an indigo vat. I happily spent much of the weekend dipping: two tablecloths, a dozen or more napkins, cotton/rayon scarves, linen handkerchiefs, and quilting cotton. Not ready to throw out the indigo vat, I stored it under our deck. 

trestles with board holding indigo vat and equipment for hand dyeing fabrics

A couple of weeks went by before I could get back to dyeing. I pulled out the indigo vat on Sunday to see if it was still viable. I tested a piece of pfd cotton and was surprised to find the indigo vat still had some life left! So I set up a makeshift indigo studio in the laneway.

indigo vat with fabrics floating on top in toronto ontario canada

I experimented with some small pieces of wool suiting, pfd cotton, linen/rayon crinkle scarves, cotton voile and double gauze cotton. The last two are new scarves that I am excited to be adding to my shop.
white cotton prepared for dyeing fabric dipped in indigo on fence
This pfd cotton has been dipped a few times and the colour is deeper than I was expecting.

wool suiting dipped in indigo oxidizing on tree toronto canada
One of the wool suitings scrunched and dipped. I didn’t expect the indigo vat to be viable so I didn’t have my drying rack set up. Instead, I used the bushes in our laneway.indigo dyed wool rolled up and tied with string by doris lovadina-lee toronto dyer
Another wool suiting rolled and tied.

yellow wool suiting dip dyed in indigo hanging from clothes hanger on fence post toronto ontario canada
This pale yellow piece of wool has a few moth holes, but I love the yellow and blue together.

metal stand with two pieces of indigo dyed cloth hanging toronto ontario
My neighbour showed up with this rack that she was going to throw out. It is perfect to use for hanging up the indigo dyed pieces. It just needs a little duct tape and will be a good addition to my dyeing supplies.

white cotton indigo dyed fabric and yellow wool fabric dyed in indigo hanging from metal stand

Here are a few of the pieces I’ve dyed during the second round of indigo dyeing drying on my new rack!


On Sunday, I left a piece of pfd cotton and a nui shibori scarf in the indigo vat overnight. On Monday, I pulled out the scrunched up pfd cotton and was happy to see a rich blue colour. 

cotton fabric dyed with indigo draped on bush

I recently read about an experiment where the dyer left pieces of fabric in an indigo vat overnight and compared those pieces to fabric that had been repeatedly dipped in the indigo. There was no difference in the depth of colour between the two, suggesting that repeated dips in indigo are not needed to dye a fabric, just a longer time in the vat. I haven’t washed these out yet, so I know that the colour will be lighter. I am happy to have had more time experimenting with this fascinating process.


Snow dyed mandala

There is very little snow left on the ground here in Toronto. I wanted to do some more snow dyeing, so I quickly prepared a couple of pieces of pfd cotton before all the snow melted. I folded one of the pieces of cotton so it would result in a mandala shape. The other was folded into a triangular shape.

shibori folded fabric snow dyed blue green toronto doris lovadina-lee

The mandala that emerged is beautiful. I sprinkled the snow topped cotton with a couple of blue dyes and a bit of yellow. I am not a methodical, scientific dyer, so each dyeing session is an experiment.

green mandala snow dyed toronto canada doris lovadina-lee

circular hand dyed cotton fabric mandala design doris lee

The triangular folded cotton is similar in colour, so I could use it in conjunction with the mandala. I really like how the colours are most intense on one edge, fading to a softer more watercolour effect.

shibori hand dyed with snow cotton quilting cotton toronto ontario small batch for sale

Since there was still one tiny pocket of snow left in the yard, I pulled out the last few metres of pfd cotton from my stash. There was just enough snow to cover the two pieces of cotton. I used the same colours of dye in different proportions. The fabric was also arranged differently from the first batch.

snow dyed quilting cotton pfd arashi shibori doris lovadina-lee

The piece above is 1 1/2 metres long and the pattern that reminds me of agate. The photo below is a detail from the piece.

hand dyed with snow cotton pfd toronto artist doris lee nui shibori available to buy

The itajime shibori cotton piece below is from the same snow dyed batch. It is quite different in design and the pfd cotton has absorbed a little more of the yellow to create a beautiful turquoise and green.

itajime shibori snow dyed cotton fabric toronto dorislovadinalee for sale


snow dyed itajime shbiori pfd handdyed quiting cotton for sale

I expect that we will not be receiving sufficient snow fall now that we are heading into spring. I do have a couple of other options I am considering to continue ‘snow’ dyeing all year-long.  Now I just have to buy some more fabric to do just that! 

Overdyeing silk scarf

One of the pieces of silk fabric I snow dyed resulted in a beautiful palette of spring greens. A mandala is centered on the 36″ silk square.

At the same time, I dyed a long silk scarf. The results of this piece was not as successful. A small amount of the dye was deposited on the outside of the folded triangle, while the centre folds had almost no dye.

Silk scarf

I decided to put this scarf into another dye bath. I had already washed it out, so I pressed it into the same folds as the first time I dyed it and proceeded to dip it into a turquoise dye bath.

Silk scarf unfolded

The results are much more interesting and vibrant! Don’t be afraid to dip your fabrics back into another dye bath, if you aren’t pleased with your results.


Snow dyed fabric

I love fuchsias, pinks and reds. These colours make me happy and energized. It’s the colour palette I gravitate towards when choosing colours for a project.


All of the two metre pieces of cotton were dyed with snow in December.

I love that each piece of fabric has a change of pattern and colour intensity from edge to edge.

Berene from Happy Sew Lucky commented on instagram that the piece is like a complex ombre. I think that’s a great description of these pieces.

Observing the pieces folded in half, they look like two completely different pieces of fabric.


There are so many design possibilities in each piece of yardage.

What colours make you happy?

Over dyed Indigo shawl

I had dyed a shawl in the spring, but I wasn’t happy with the look. So I took the opportunity to redye it in indigo.

Indigo shawl
Indigo shawl

Indigo shawl

I folded the piece, so that the a portion of the ends were left unbound. This created a dark blue border.

Indigo shawl folded with resist
Indigo shawl folded with resist

Indigo shawl

The shawl has a lovely soft drape and could be used as a sarong over a bathing suit or wrapped warmly around your neck for the next few months!

Indigo Dyeing Workshop: Part Two

On the second day of the workshop we were back early with stitched pieces of fabric ready to dye! Preparing the fabric was time consuming but the results were fantastic! The beige fabric is a linen/cotton blend that will become a pillow. It is basted from the center out with upholstery thread and running stitches. The other beige piece has the fabric pulled through metal washers. The white cotton on the lower left has small plastic bead wrapped inside and tied with thread.

Fabrics prepared to indigo dye
Fabrics prepared to indigo dye
Linen/cotton fabric prepared for Indigo dyeing
Linen/cotton fabric prepared for Indigo dyeing and rayon velvet

There are four basic techniques for shibori dyeing that we worked with:

  1. Arashi Shibori – pole-wrapping
  2. Itajime Shibori – folding and clamping
  3. Kumo Shibori – bound resists
  4. Nui shibori – stitching and gathering
Indigo fabrics drying
Indigo fabrics drying

Shibori designs are created when the fabric resists the indigo dye. This is achieved by creating portions of the cloth where the dye can’t penetrate. So, the tighter that fabric is gathered, clamped or stitched, the more it retains its original colour in these areas.

Indigo shibori pieces drying
Indigo shibori pieces drying

Above, on the left is a PFD cotton that was folded in half lengthwise and then pole wrapped. The cotton gauze on the right was folded into squares and clamped in-between two pieces of wood.

Indigo fabrics drying on line
Indigo fabrics drying on line

Each time I unwrapped a piece, more design possibilities were suggested. I would like to experiment with different weights and textures of fabric as well as silk and pure linen. I think that the differing weaves of the fabric will also contribute to the uniqueness of the finished designs.

Indigo fabrics drying on line
Indigo fabrics drying on line

There are more pieces waiting to be washed and ironed. I enjoyed creating the varied styles using the shibori technique and will try them out using Procion fabric dyes during the summer.

Indigo Shibori - Itajime
Indigo Shibori – Itajime

The fabric on the right looks like daisies!


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