Shibori Sheet

I’ve been wanting to try another dye project since I dip-dyed a white shirt last year and it was a runaway success.

And then I saw this picture a few weeks back of my favourite fashion blogger, Atlantic-Pacific, modelling a Tory Burch dress. It’s on sale for £278 at the time of writing.

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Oh yeah, and Reese Witherspon has the skirt version.

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Now, when I saw that dress, my first thought was: SHIBORI. Shibori is Japanese traditional tie-dye which is traditionally done using indigo dyes. There are many techniques, including folding, binding, twisting, clamping and sewing. There are some great examples on the web if you want to read more about it. Ginger over at Ginger Makes did a Shibori class with some of the NY based sewists which you can read about here. Seeing those pictures really whetted my appetite for what might be possible. Erica over at Recycled Fashion also tried this recently and made a beautiful T-shirt. And for more on dying… Sallie Oh does some incredibly inspirational things with dye – like this one which looks a bit shibori-like. She has a great dye tutorial, with more examples, here as well.

Anyway, back to my dress. I went out looking for something to dye. The dye only affects natural fibres, and I was obviously looking for something white.

Sheets are perfect for dye projects. This double duvet cover came from the Scope shop in Lewisham (£6). It’s actually 50% cotton, 50% polyester, so it will still take the dye, but the colour won’t be as strong as it would have been with 100% cotton.

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I’m using Dylon hand dye – same as the dip-dye shirt – but in Ocean Blue this time.

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Each packet dyes up to 250g of fabric so I weighed my duvet cover to work out roughly how much I should be attempting to dye. In the end I used up about two thirds of the back of the duvet cover (which wasn’t embroidered), or about 300g of fabric. I figured that some of the sections would be left white and therefore I could get away with using more!

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I tore up some pieces, checking that they were wide enough to take my front and back bodice blocks. I did two pieces for the bodice, four for the skirt and another two to experiment with.

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Following the instructions on the packet, I dunked my fabric in water and rung it out so that it was wet but not dripping. This helps the dye coat evenly.

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To emulate the Tory Burch dress, I had to accordion pleat my pieces in both directions. Since my bodice pieces would be used ‘landscape’, while my skirt pieces would be ‘portrait’, I had to be sure to pleat two the opposite way to the remaining four (this will make more sense when you scroll down and see the finished dyed pieces).

The first pass of accordion pleats had a pitch of around 4cm, and the second set had a pitch of around 10cm.

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I ended up with six little wet parcels. (I’ll show you what I did with my experimental pieces another time).

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Following the directions on the dye packet, I dissolved it in warm water and added the salt, popped in my parcels and left them there, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. WEAR GLOVES AND AN APRON if you try this, folks!

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The parcels came out nice and blue!

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And then… the moment of truth….

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To say I was delighted with the results would be a bit of an understatement! I could barely wait for them to dry before I started sewing!

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Here’s what I meant by ‘portrait’ and ‘landscape’.

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And now… to start sewing! The bodice was just my block, with some room to overlap at centre front to make a button placket.

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I underlined the bodice pieces with some more of the sheet to make the white look really white.

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The collar pattern was borrowed from Betty Draper and cut from scraps of the bodice pieces. There wasn’t enough, so both underside pieces are plain white.

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From the scraps, I also cut a couple of vaguely sleeve shaped cap sleeves.

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Here are some more in progress shots. The skirt was sewn together and then pleated on the blue lines to complement the pattern.

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Closure-wise, there’s a zip up one side. The centre front is held together by sewing through the buttons and and all the layers in one go. You’ll see from the pictures below that I used 7 of the original buttons that were cut from the original duvet cover – they are the perfect size and are completely transparent.

Overall I think this is a dead ringer for the original garment so I’m pretty happy with it!

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120 comments

  1. sewbusylizzy

    Holy sheet woman – this is amazing. I’ve got a book on Shibori – I really must pull it back out!!! This is fabulous! You never cease to amaze me.

  2. yesilikethat

    Oh man, another amazing project! I did some Shibori when I was at Morley College, it’s so fun, I really need to do some again! Your pieces have come out so perfectly and they suit this dress so well.

  3. Clare Szabo

    So great Sally, you have done another winning job! I really want to have a go at this – I am inspired. And look at your beautiful nails <3

  4. sewlittletime

    OMG this is sooooo cool! i def want to try dying. i might do an order from dharma trading so let me know if you fancy sharing postage. they have a bulk shipping option that makes it pretty cheap to get it over here!

  5. Suzie

    This is amazing! Well done recreating the original inspiration – you got it spot on!!! I love this dress so much, definitely one of my favourite makes that you’ve done. I REALLY want to have a go at dying fabric now!

  6. Katy

    This is amazing! I’ve been tempted to try dyeing fabrics, this looks soo good I’m going to have to give it a go!

  7. Judy Dyer

    Adorable. I really liked your choice of those transparent buttons that don’t interfere with the design.

  8. Jen

    Wow, this looks amazing! I totally think you should host a sewalong of dyeing fabric then sewing a garment. Imagine all of the brilliant creations there would be! Jen x

  9. Marie

    You’re ‘pretty happy with it’?!? Girl, are you crazy! You should be totally, ridiculously, over the moon with it! The tie dye effect has worked so beautifully and definitely looks more chic than hippy/boho ;o) And I love the shape of the dress on you…what a sweet combination all around!

  10. Gwen

    You are absolutely killing it these days. I really love your “inspired” posts: they have totally changed my sense of what is possible! Definitely excited to bone up on my sewing skills/up my finishing game so I can move towards seeing something gorgeous, and executing a verison for me.

  11. Heather Lou

    You are a genius. Love this dress sooooo much. It’s making my mind explode with possibilities for a piece of lime green silk I have sitting in the stash – this dye technique might help make it wearable!

    • charityshopchic

      No YOU’RE the genius, lady! So flattered that you liked this project. Dying was so much fun, I want to do it again, and get a bit more creative next time…!

  12. Joyce

    I’m just going to echo everyone else and tell you that this looks AMAZING! It obviously took you quite a while but the end result is so worth it! I hope you get lots of wear out of this beauty

  13. Amy

    Amazing! You even stripe matched which makes it more impressive. Congrats on your shibori sewing ninja skills! You look very happy and pretty :-)

  14. Jan

    Absolutely lovely. Perfect in every way. I wish my granddaughters who only wear items with “appropriate” labels and dress like lemmings would be more like you – the rush you get from creating something from next to nothing (a sheet!) must be so fulfilling. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. I so look forward to your creations. (Note: I bought the gd’s a sewing machine last year, but so far nothing – but I’m still hoping!)

    • charityshopchic

      You’re so kind, Jan, thank you for commenting. Making clothes is a great hobby and it’s very satisfying. Young people often fail to connect the clothes they buy with anything handmade – but all clothes are made by a person, even if it’s a person in a factory on the other side of the world. They’ll come around eventually!

  15. Gjeometry

    Ah, gorgeous!!! The dyeing and the beautiful shirt-dress! I desperately want to dip dye something now. Out of my way, dye going to happen.

  16. jenny_o

    SO pretty, and looks wonderful on you! May I ask, did you underline the skirt as well? (your instructions refer to underlining the bodice but no mention of the skirt) I like Zoe’s suggestion above!

  17. Rachel Davies

    I have just come across your website, I am so impressed with your skills and creativeness. This dress is awesome, thanks for putting it up on the web :)

  18. Ashley

    Just have to say I love all your refashions! i have been dying (pun intended) to try some, but I’m nowhere near your skill level yet. That said, I found a white cotton sundress at goodwill outlet and paid maybe $1 – then did your shibori technique. OMG it is gorgeous!!! I cheated because the dress was already a dress but it’s a step in the right direction. Keep up the amazing work!

    • charityshopchic

      Hello Ashley, thank you for commenting! I appreciate your support. I am really glad you had success with the shibori method. I loved doing this dye technique and will definitely try it again soon!

  19. this girl has knits

    I’m working my way slowly through your blog, and I must say, this is my favourite post so far! They are, of course, all brilliant, but I love the dye job you did here. Amazing!

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