DIY Shibori

DIY Shibori
Shibori upcycling

Apart from upcycling my scraps, I have been fascinated with how you can change the colour of your clothes. Adding a burst of colour, whether it be bright pink or even black, can really change the way you perceive your garment. Just like that, you can become attached to it again, and hopefully it will make its way back to the top of your pile of clothes in the wardrobe. Sad to say, we tend to ignore certain items when we get bored with them, and if you are not good with the needle and thread (or sewing machine) perhaps a packet of dye would help you in getting a "new" garment without hitting the stores.
You might remember the DIY Batik tutorial I posted last year. I really like the way my white top turned out but I have to admit that the whole process was tedious (I was getting impatient!) and unless you live in a cold climate, the bainmarie of wax makes you all hot and sweaty!
DIY batik upcycling
Shibori with Batik Dye
As a result of the batik trial, I ended up with a bottle of batik dye that I had to use up. Initially I thought of doing more batik, but then who wants a wardrobe full of the same things?
I recalled my friend Yumiko telling me about Shibori and even encouraged me to do it on a dress that I had acquired at a clothes swap
shibori diy

But what is shibori? 
Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that uses the resist method (much like batik) but instead of using wax, you shape or fold the fabric. The creases  or physical pressure of objects on the fabric will act as the resist - think of it as a manual resist method. In fact, the word "shibori" comes from the verb root shiboru, "to wring, squeeze, press." Indigo is commonly used for shibori and is the dye most associated with the process mainly because there were not many dyes back in the day. Unfortunately,  most indigo dyes (unless stated) are no longer extracted from plants. So even if you see "indigo" on the labeling, it is highly likely that it is synthetic rather than natural.
Traditional Shibori
The traditional way of executing shibori is to dip the whole piece of fabric into the vat of indigo after binding it with clips or string (see below). 
Picture of Indigo Dyeing: Shibori
Image: from Instructables
How I did Shibori
I decided to experiment because I didn't have a big vat to put my dye in, and secondly I didn't have enough dye to soak the garment. In fact, I would not advise preparing a big vat of dye unless you are doing lots of dyeing or having a dye party with friends. 
shibori DIY

1. After rolling the garment onto a plastic bottle, I tied about 20 elastic bands to secure it before scrunching the fabric. It basically looked like a messed up scrunchy!
2. I then dripped the batik dye over the garment (not forgetting to have a bowl underneath!)
3. To take it further, I used a wet sponge and "sponged" my dress as though it was having fever. So I alternated between sponging and dripping. All this happened very randomly over the garment.
4. After the whole garment was completely soaked, I let it dry under the sun.

[Update: make sure your garment has been cleaned before you dye it]

[Update 2: The most go to place to get your dyes online is Dharma Trading. At home in Singapore, you can try Art Friend but the selection is not wide, and I haven't been able to find indigo dyes there. ]


At this stage, I was thinking I had made a mistake because I did not see any white areas where the resist was. Obviously my eyes were deceiving me because as soon as the dress was completely dry I removed the elastic bands, and voila, I could see that the manual resist method had worked.
What made this different from the traditional shibori was that the garment was either a pale blue or an intense ochre; there was none of the original colour. Looking at the dress, it appeared as if I had replicated the movement of water under the sun!
shibori dye

Here I am wearing it. I really love the way this has turned out and I might try it again but with a different colour.  Have you tried shibori? What was your experience with it?

shibori dye

shibori dye

shibori dye

Shared on 

An Eventful Green Week

No comments
An Eventful Green Week
I think this week is a great week if you are looking at what to do to be green.

Earth Film Fest

First up is Earth Film Fest. 
My amazing friend, Michael Broadhead, has organised the world's first crowd-based film festival. It's happening this week. If you want to see the award-winning environmental movies, you will need to contact any of the hosts who are screening them in their homes. Just reach out to them on social media. What are the movies? They have a great line-up of them, and I highly recommend Cotton Road!

Earth Film Fest

World Recycle Week 
. s
Secondly, H&M has launched it's world recycle week. If you are thinking of clearing out your wardrobe then H&M is one of the places where you can drop them off in return for a 15% voucher. For every kilogram collected, 2 euro cents will be donated to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. There is a lot of controversy behind the campaign, and one   two of the major sticking points are that 1) the technology is not advanced to recycle all materials; and 2) the scheme still promotes consumption - well, you can ignore the voucher!

The third thing that's happening in this eventful green week is Green Drinks on COP21 Paris Agreement & Climate Change. Speakers from civil society will be sharing their thoughts on the agreement and what it means for Singapore. Speakers are Melissa Low of Energy Studies Institute (ESI) will explain key elements of the Paris Agreement, Pui Cuifen of Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) will share SYCA's observations of the journey to COP21, and Sandra Marichal of #up2degrees will tell us about her 13-day Antarctic Expedition alongside renowned polar explorer Robert Swan OBE and a movement she founded to raise awareness of climate change and global warming, and to inspire Singaporeans to take action.

Date: 21 April 2016 (Thurs)
Time: 7pm – 8.30pm
Venue: SingJazz Club, 101 Jalan Sultan, #02-00, The Sultan.
Admission: Free (contributions to society accepted)
RSVP: Via Facebook or email

Earth Day

Earth Day is also happening on the 22 April. Why not make small positive changes to your lifestyle? Go vegetarian once a week, carpool, or make that conscious decision not to buy things you don't really need. 

Repair Kopitiam
Want to get your mending fix this weekend? Pop by one of the Repair Kopitiam locations on Sunday between 9am to 3pm. Bring along your broken possessions and the lovely volunteers will teach you how it can be repaired. 

And yes, don't forget Fashion Revolution Day is happening on 24th April! Make sustainable fashion choices and always remember to question #whomademyclothes.

Fashion Revolution Day Singapore

Trying to Weave Clothes

Trying to Weave Clothes
My weaving journey so far has not been very good. I have been weaving and upcycling my scraps - sakiori - but I think I have been too eager to progress from weaving squares to something more advanced.
The first mistake I made was the tension!
I just forgot about it! I had already successfully woven two sample panels of upcycled scraps that it slipped my mind to watch the tension when I wove a bigger piece. My plan was to weave a top based on an old t-shirt. My brain told me that if I just pinned down the warp then everything that would follow would be magic. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Not only did I lose the tension, but the front panel of the top warped. I was feeling very disappointed as I had spent so much time and effort to weave it.

weaving sakiori

The second mistake I made was not taking into consideration the type of textile that would allow my garment to fit the body. The fact that I had used sakiori - weaving various scrap fabrics - did not help with the weaving either.  For a garment to work, I had to use the right type of fabric and the woven fabric had to be light enough to conform and drape nicely on the body. So now I have ended up with this warped creature!

weaving sakiori

weaving sakiori

So, lesson learned - planning is a must, and definitely don't hurry.

Interactive Textiles

Interactive Textiles
Things come together in the strangest ways!
One of my maker friends, Leon, was talking to me about how cool it would be to make an interactive display panel with animation and moving objects for Maker Faire.  I thought it would be a great idea too, but then what would be the narrative? You can't just expect whirring objects to attract people, you needed to have an objective behind it.  We didn't have the idea until we were having dinner with our friend Mel - she blurted "Hey, you could have it be part of  Fashion Revolution Day".  We were very excited and overwhelmed at the same time as we needed to quickly form a team to cover the electronics, design and animation as well as textile integration.  Fortunately, Leon was very happy to implement the projection mapping and integrate it with the electronics (capacitive touch sensing), I was keen on the textile integration, and we managed to get students of the School of Digital Media and Infocomm Technology, Singapore Polytechnic to assist with the design and animation. Everything fell into place.  Two months later, this is what we have!

interactive textiles

The whole concept of the interactive was to inform viewers of what their sustainable fashion choices are - a corresponding animation would be played. The students were great and came up with a great design and accompanying animation (very hipster, I might add!). We are now onto the final stages and I am integrating the textiles into the design, and we still have to combine it with the electronics. Sneak peak of the animation is on my IG! Come down to take a look at it on the 24th April 4 - 7pm at the Hub Impact Singapore, 128 Prinsep Street. More details here.

What Does Fashion Revolution Mean to You?


What does Fashion Revolution mean to you?

What's your pledge?

Come down to The Impact Hub on 24 April at 4pm -
a) Watch the The True Cost documentary
b) Pledge your commitment to sustainable fashion
c) Meet new friends!

Sign up at Connected Threads Asia website or Facebook.

Managing My Time

Managing My Time
"Agatha, why are you so busy?"
"Don't you get tired?"
I've been asked these questions for the past few weeks, and probably because I find that I have to miraculously replicate myself so that I can go to different meetings and meet people who share the same passion as I do. 
But, to answer the questions, I'm busy because I believe we still have a long way to go in getting people to put their environmental awareness into actions; I want to do something about it! I also have a family so they are also my priority. I try to juggle between these two, and when it gets very busy, family comes first. 
Do I get tired? Yes, I do. I think over did it in the first half of last year and got exhausted. However, I think it's because I was a one-woman show, and I came to realise that to make change you need a COMMUNITY, and you need to COLLABORATE. I also realised I needed to LET GO of some things I was doing. You just can't do everything and you need to delegate it to someone, or even collaborate with someone who will do it for you. If you don't, you'll be too tired, and you'll have no energy for other things in your life.  So when we wanted to do a campaign for Fashion Revolution Day Singapore, there was no way I could create a video and photo shoot in under one month! Get the professionals, and they produced this!

But sometimes you do have to say "no" to certain things no matter how enticing it is - you don't want to overstretch yourself, and if you don't have the time to contribute in a meaningful way, say "no". Don't Never be the silent partner in a collaboration! 
I'm very happy I am working with great people; it makes the things I do all the more enjoyable and, at times, less stressful. Does it look like that here? :)

Fashion Revolution Singapore