Self Assembly Required

DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

Learning Shibori with Rob at Fabrications

[warning: sponsored content!]

A few weeks ago I was approached by Obby, a new site for people looking for creative courses and workshops, with an offer to try out their site and a workshop!

I love learning new things so I jumped at the opportunity! I spent a while trawling through the options on the Obby site. They cover so many different types of classes, from sewing and cake decorating to book binding and woodworking – it was hard to choose!

I was torn between doing something random like calligraphy or something more useful and textile related!

In the end I went with the textiles. I realised I have terrible penmanship skills and a short calligraphy course was probably not going to fix that!

I picked out a Shibori dye class held at Fabrications in Hackney. This independent shop and studio holds lots of classes on all different things and has a focus on upcycling and reusing textiles as well as being a gallery for owner Barley Massey and other local artists.

If you don’t know what Shibori is, it is the Japanese art of indigo dyeing using a variety of different resistance techniques to create patterns. You can see some really intricate uses of this in traditional kimonos.
Essentially though, it’s like doing really organised tie dyeing if you’ve ever done that as a kid.

Now I’ve never tie dyed anything in my life. I’ve always hated the randomness of it all – I’m a neat lines kinda gal – but having googled samples of Shibori, this type of dyeing really appealed to me!

The class was taught by Rob Jones who is a full time Shibori artist. He makes textiles to sell as well as holding regular workshops and one to one classes. He really know his stuff! Check out his work on his Instagram page here.

The morning class covered binding and stitching techniques – all the basics really. We covered a lot of ground. We had the opportunity to make samples of each type of technique and dye them ourselves so we could see first hand what kind of result we could get from each type of bind or stitch.

We had an hour break for lunch – normally it’s not that important to mention lunch but we were in Broadway Market!! On a Saturday there’s a full out hipster market full of artisan food, art and all good things. I could probably have spent a whole afternoon just wandering about here. I ended up with just a quick bite to eat though! 😂

Meringue girls!

The afternoon covered the folding and block clamping techniques. Now these were the bits I was most interested in! The folding (kikko) is what creates linear patterns in the fabric or a kaleidoscope effect if you wish it.

Rob showed us all the basic techniques as well as lots of samples of his own making to give us an idea of what can be achieved using these techniques. After that we were let loose to experiment!

I made loads of samples – some were better than others! They aren’t particularly dark as I took less time and care dyeing them than you would probably do for a finished piece. I think some of them would’ve benefitted from a few dips to achieve a really dark blue. What I wanted to do was see the results of different types of techniques to get an idea of what effects each had.

I’ve definitely gotten the Shibori bug after this class!

I really want to experiment with larger bits of fabric and to see if I can create something that can be used for dressmaking – I’m thinking large repeat pattern will be a good place to start!

Helen from Helen’s Closet recently made a Shibori dyed kimono with her most recent pattern so I know it can definitely be done!

If you’re interested in using Obby to book a class, here’s a discount code you can use for £10 off any class. Just type in SELFASSEMBLY10 into the discount code box when checking out.

I liked using the site as it collates all the different classes from different providers all in one place so, for example, you can see when and where all the [insert activity here] classes are taking place and pick the one that suits you best!

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  1. Very cool! I love all the patterns you managed to try! We found that dyeing large pieces was challenging because so much of the fabric stayed white. We overdid it a bit on the resists, I think. I have a post in the works where I share the techniques we used to get the results we got. The one I used for the kimono was my favourite by far.

    1. Ooo, I’d love to read more on what you techniques you used! I was a bit concerned about how difficult it would be to get a large piece fully soaked. I think I need to get experimenting!

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