Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge Day 11: Dyed

MAR 11, 2016 updated Nov 8, 2021

A logo with a white top quarter and a turquoise bottom three-quarters. There is a yellow ribbon going through both the white and the turquoise sections at the top with white cursive text in it that says "Design Prompt." Below the ribbon, in the turquoise section is the #11 in white font, with the word "dyed" underneath it, also in white and all lowercase.

Today’s #SFDesignADay Challenge features the unique hand dyed techniques used by Pam Layton York of The Playful Crow. Giving us a closer look at her step-by-step process, she shows us how she takes her fabric from dyed to digital. Read on for detailed photos of the entire process and try your hand at the hand-dyed technique at home!

Three blue-and-white shibori napkins are pinned to a corkboard with t-pins. The are behind a white box with rounded handles full of folded shibori napkins. Additional shibori napkins lie beside the box. The front of the box has been painted black and has a white crow design on it and large white text that says "The Playful Crow." @pam layton york is written to the bottom lefthand side.

Pam: “Shibori” is an ancient Japanese tie-dying technique. Patterns were created by folding, compressing, binding and stitching fabric in various ways prior to dying to create different patterns. Unlike modern multi-colored tie-dyed items, the Shibori technique used only one color. Indigo was the most popular.

I started with some of the traditional methods of stitching and folding and then added a few of my own to create the designs.

A collection of images made to look like Polaroid photos on a light wooden surface. The first images, at the top left is white fabric folded stitched and bound up ready to be dyed. The next image is white fabric ready to be placed in the blue dye, the fabric is being held above the dye bath. The next image is a photo of the fabric after it has been in the dye. It is green prior to oxidization. In the next row, starting on the left hand side is dark blue folded fabric, as the fabric is now blue due to oxidization. The next photo is additional fabric that has been through the dye bath next to scissors, which will cut off the bindings holding the fabric together. The last photo is a close up of the oxidization process, fabric with the bindings removed. Some of it is green, some of it is dark blue.

Working with Indigo Dye was amazing. The fabrics were bright green when they first came out of the dye and then oxidized to a beautiful deep blue. After I took the bindings off of the fabrics, I rinsed, dried and ironed them prior to scanning. Working in Photoshop, I created a standard square repeat of each design and copyrighted them prior to uploading to Spoonflower.

Spoonflower makes it easy to upload designs to make them available for your projects or to be purchased by others. I encourage purchasers my designs to share photos of their finished projects!

A photo of a render of Pam's designs, i.e., what they would look like in someone's home. There is a white couch with three shibori blue-and-white pillows on it and a blue-and-white shibori box in front of the sofa. On the wall behind the sofa are two pieces of art. The one on the left has 12 small blue-and-white shibori pieces in it, arranged in 4 rows of 4 fabric pieces. The piece of art on the left is similar, except that the squares of shibori fabric are circles. There is a dark blue curtain panel hanging to one side of the window to the right of the couch.

Now that you’ve learned more about Pam’s technique, try it out yourself! Only have 15 minutes to spare? Try using a marker and a damp paper towel for a faux dyed affect! When you’re done, share your design on any social media platform you like (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and tag it with #SFDesignADay. We can’t wait to see what you create! 

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  • Shibori seems like a lot of fun! I was wondering about the copyright of items before uploading to Spoonflower, mentioned by Pam. Is this something you recommend? If so, is it easy to do? I thought my art was protected.

    • Hi Giliane,

      Thanks so much for your question! You retain copyright at all time to the designs you upload to Spoonflower and you can learn more about our terms here. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask! – Meredith

  • Hi Amy,
    We’re so glad to hear you’re going to give shibori a try! We love the way Pam’s designs have turned out using this technique but certainly agree it’s worth waiting for warmer weather! We’d love to see photos when you’re done.

  • Awesome! I’ve always wanted to try shibori. I’ll probably wait until summer so I can do it outside, and use a different method for the challenge. Thanks for the great post!