Creativity at your Fingertips During the Pandemic with Found Object Printing and Garment Designer

One of my favorite textile arts is surface design. I adore anything to do with fabric, but creating my own fabric has to top my list of having fun. This past weekend I was prepping to teach a class at Stitches At Home Expo (Nov. 6-8) on Printing with Found Objects. You have no idea what your pantry, fridge, and junk drawer hold for you as far as inspiration and tools for print design.

Linen fabric printed with a variety of ‘found objects’

The investment to get started is minimal (under $10.00).  You need textile paint or acrylic paint (textile paint is better because it isn’t as stiff), a foam roller paint trimmer, a foam brush, some kind of flat surface (an old cookie sheet or piece of glass), a padded surface of some sort (it could be felt, polar fleece, or a towel), and of course, fabric to print.

I chose two fabrics: a plain cotton to do my testing, and a light-colored linen fabric for the final print. 

Below are some of the substances I used in my print process.

Orzo and Marcaroni

Rubber Bands, Corrugated Cardboard, Bubblewrap
Cabbage and Broccoli
Twist Ties and Plant Pod
Here are some shots of the fabrics I created

So… you may ask, what shall one do with them?  Well, since my various fabrics are all relatively small, I decided to do a pieced garment.  Here is the pattern that I created in Garment Designer Software (  I was able to use the Facing function to create division lines so I could plan out a pleasing division of space.

Garment Designer pattern, using the ‘Facing’ function to plan the space

I’ll print the pattern in full scale with the grid on, and use it as a guide. I’ll either separate all the pieces and add seam allowances as I cut my final fabrics, or I’ll piece section together and then piece the sections. Either way will work.

I still have to heat set all the fabrics, but then the final step can begin: the putting together of fabrics at my sewing machine.

Indigo Dyeing and Shibori Techniques

Indigo Dyeing and Shibori Techniques

I’m busy prepping to teach a workshop on Shibori and dyeing with Indigo (or other dye) for Knitters At Home Expo in early November. Please join me in the class. We will be using either an Indigo kit (you can get on Amazon) or Dylon cold water dyes.

Indigo Dyeing Workshop
Samples of Indigo Dyeing with Shibori techniques.

Here is the info

I wanted to share with you one of the most memorable experiences of my creative life.. which has inspired to continue working with Indigo. This was a visit to the Little Indigo Museum outside of Kyoto, Japan in 2015.

Indigo Dyeing with Hirojuki Shindo in Japan

The Little Indigo Museum

Two trains and two buses. That is what it took for us to get to the magical village of Kita in Miyama, which lies 60 km north of Kyoto, Japan.

The goal; to visit the Little Indigo Museum, and meet Hiroyuki Shindo, a master of Indigo dyeing. He is known in the fiber arts community and has shown his art indigo pieces in numerous major museums throughout the world.

Shindo-san and his family live in Kita, a village composed of amazing thatched-roof dwellings, many of which are more than 200 years old. The Little Indigo Museum’s dwelling is the oldest, and functions not only as a museum, but a workspace, and living quarters.

A typical house in the village of Kita

The Shindo family was most gracious. The museum, in the upstairs of the home held many examples of indigo fabrics, demonstrating dyeing and printing techniques from around the world.

A view of part of the Indigo Exhibit
A fringed indigo veil worn by a Berber bride in Tunisa 
18th century Indigo print, France
Shindo-san cutting hemp for our projects

The workshop part of our visit allowed us to experience indigo dyeing first-hand. Shindo-san provided each of us with a meter of vintage hemp, and discussed various techniques we could apply using a clamp-resist process. 

The first step was to fold the fabric vertically, so as to expose as much of it as possible in the dye bath. Then, we sandwiched the fabric between wood pieces and clamped them in place.

Folding the fabric vertically
Folding the fabric vertically

Off to the dye vats!

Indigo Plants
Dried Indigo

Indigo, as a dye substance, is processed from the leaves of the indigo plant.Here you can see the plants, and leaves once dried, that will be pulverized for use. I was intrigued to learn that a healthy dye bath will be capped with a crowing ‘flower’ formed through a vigorous stirring process, which signifies a healthy ph value.

Stirring to create the ‘flower’
The ‘flower’

Don and I decided to use two different techniques. I dipped my cloth completely, and Don space-dyed his, meaning he kept part of his cloth from immersing in the fabric.

The amazing thing about indigo dyeing, is that the bath is a yellowish-green. One doesn’t start to see the blue/navy until oxidation takes place. This can happen through exposure to the air, or through the oxygen in water. Here you can see my fabric as I have unclamped the wood.

Here are our finished pieces; This was too much fun!

Don’s space-dyed piece (left) and my complete immersed piece (right)

This visit was one of the highlights of my Japan trip. I cannot thank the Shindo family enough for their generosity in sharing and in spirit.
To learn more about Hirojuki Shindo and his Little Indigo Museum, click on the link below:

Susan Lazear

Cochenille Design Studio

Visiting Shibori Techniques

Visiting Shibori Techniques

Showing posts sorted by relevance for query shiboriSort by dateShow all posts

Shibori Workshop in Kyoto

I’m going to be teaching an Indigo/Shibori workshop for Knitters At Home Expo in a few weeks, and so I’ve been thinking more about my experiences with the textiles art of Shibori. Here is a link to my class on November 7th, 10 am – 12:10 pm and 1:00 – 3:10 pm

Join me for a class of Shibori techniques

A few years ago, while on a sabbatical to study textile, I spent three weeks in Japan. I spent a morning taking a Shibori workshop at the Kyoto Museum of Shibori. This museum has excellent exhibits about the process of Shibori, as well as many mind boggling examples in the form of kimono, wall hangings, and samples. If you are a textile artist, I highly recommend a visit here.

Shibori is a dyeing technique that is practiced around the world. It has many forms, and of course, the name changes from region to region. Basically, it is a type of resist-dyeing, where part of the fabric is either bound or clamped in order to prevent the dye from penetrating. There are many ways to achieve the ‘resist’ process. You will find resist dyeing in Indonesia, Africa, India, etc.

Japan calls this type of resist dyeing Shibori. It dates back 1300 plus years. Kyoto is a important center for Shibori, and here it is known as  Kyo-Kanoko-Shibori. Thetechniques are varied, and have been passed down from generation to generation. In Kyoto, silk was the primary fabric used, and the resultant fabrics traditionally would be used by the men, women, and children of samurai.  In the Edo period, high-class shibori was created on silk in Kyoto and the ordinary-class indigo shibori was created with cottons and linens in the country areas.
Our instructor was Ryo Shimada. He is Japanese, but speaks perfect English, with an Australian accent (quite amusing to me). Ryo was fantastic. He was informative, helpful and patient. I’ll discuss one technique in this blog post, and another technique is a separate blog post.

working on shibori techniques

Technique One: Stitch and DyeThe first technique we covered involved stitching into the silk cloth with strong cotton thread. I believe this technique is called Kasamaki. We began by choosing a pattern we liked from the example wall. For the sake of time, all the stitching process had already been completed on our scarf, so we simply focused on the drawing-in of the threads to create the resist areas of the cloth. Here you can see a sample of the pattern I chose to do, and the threads that were already stitched with either a single strand or a double strand of cotton.

Dyed examples of Shibori

 The ‘flowers’ of my design were created with single strand thread. My task was to use a stand tool to hold the knots of the ends of thread and allow me to get good tension while tightening the thread first (which outlined the flower), and then binding the projection (which would create the striations of the ‘flower petals’.

Bound sections in the cloth

Below, you can see how the ‘protrusion’ of fabric was wrapped tightly, letting the wooden stand device aid in the process.

Wrapping the protruding fabric and the results

The second stitch technique (which I’ve seen called Nui), involved using a double-strand running stitch, and drawing the threads ‘tight’. Little pieces of cotton at each end, protected the fabric later, when it came time to pull the thread out (acting like washers). Some of these were done for me (in advance), and some I pulled and tightened myself.

Once prepped, the pieces went into the dye bath. Synthetic dyes were used, and these were heated and ready for us when we got to the de studio. After the dyeing, we spun out the excel moisture and then waited for the pieces to dry.

Into the dye bath (love the stirring sticks)

To remove the running stitches, one simply pulled the fabric with the palms of your hands to break the threads. To remove the threads from the ‘projections’ we snipped the end knot and undid the threads with our fingers. Then came the magic moment when two people pulled the scarf from the opposite end, and let it ‘bloom’. Wow!  Too much fun!!

The ‘bloom’ and running stitches and my bloom

I’ll be posting a bit more on Shibori and Indigo. Watch for a post on clamping techniques which are much simpler to do than the stitching.

Kyoto Shibori Museum127 Shikiamicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8261, Kyoto Prefecture+81 75-221-4252
An American Site with info and tools, etc.

Two-Piece Felted Jacket with Garment Designer Software: Tribute to Kath Taylor

I recently finished a jacket that had been in the works for a long time, the idea started in 2013 at a Cochenille Workshop here in southern California. It took seven years to complete this project and, in the end, it is a dedication to the person who inspired it, Kath Taylor. Kath was recently taken by cancer, and thus, the completion of the garment was a way to work through sorrow and honor a friend.

The Kath Coat
Kath, shopping for fabric in Verona, Italy with our Retreat Group

Meet Kath Taylor. 

Kath was completely lovely. She was from New Zealand, and lived here in the U.S. working as a nurse. She was a giver; always wanting to help and care for others. Kath joined us on an Italian retreat and had also taken several other workshops here in southern California.

Inspiration Garment

The Inspiration
At one of the So Cal workshops, Kath worn a great jacket-coat, made with a felted fabric. I loved it. It had this wonderful neck treatment and design details.

The Design
With permission, I took a sketch of the garment, and then rebuilt it in my size in Garment Designer. I used Top Mode and a princess line to make the top, and then added the skirt in Bottom mode. The garment has a slightly raised waistline.

Jacket Bodice of pattern using Princess Style
Jacket Skirt

Often at our workshops we take a day to go up to Los Angeles to the Garment District, often followed by a trip to Mood Fabrics. It was at Mood that I found my fabric which was an orange bouclé single knit. It had a hole in it, so Mood offered to give me extra fabric, and all was good

I prepped the fabric by washing and drying it in the laundry, with the goal of felting it lightly.  This took two attempts.

Wool Bouclé Knit Fabric, slightly felted

… time passed

Then, came the cutting out and construction. I had no problem with getting the bodice base sewn and the fit cross-checked, but I soon realized that it would be very helpful to see how Kath’s garment was put together, so a quick email resulted in a variety of images being sent. As you can see from the image above, the neckline required some additional treatment.

… time passed

I attempted my first round of the neckline treatment by pleating a long strip of the wool. Once sewn on, I realized that the neckline has stretched. And now, we have discovered my weak spot. I hate undoing, and so..

… time passed. This time a lot of time, as live got busy, work increased, and other ‘quick’ garments were made when I did have the time.

At one point, I was searching for the right trim (a good excuse to delay)… and indeed found it, once again at Mood Fabrics in New York, where I had gone to attend Vogue Knitting.

Zoom ahead to 2020,
and the garment is still not quite done.

Then two major tragedies hit at about the same time. First was the pandemic. And second was a phone call with news that my friend Kath had passed away, taken by cancer.

So, this was it. I wanted to complete the garment in tribute to my friend Kath who was always the happy, up person in any group. She was a nurse, a giver, and a lovely soul.

So, I dug into the task and completed this Jacket.  The neck trim took some ‘twiddling’ but I finally got it. I believe that my fabric is not as stiff as the original jacket so it took some extra hand-stitching in places to get those pleats to hold. 

Here are some images of the jacket, from the wrong side. You can see the construction a little better from this view.

Wrong side of the garment for a better view of the construction

The last two steps were the buttons and adding the trim. I must have tried up to 10 options for buttons. And the trim sorted itself out because only one of the three pieces was actually long enough to go all the way around.

I could not make up my mind….

And so… I present here, the Kath Coat. It always had that name, but now, it is even more special.

The Kath Coat
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