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Shibori Meets Dévoré in a Handwoven Scarf
By Holly Brackmann

Handwoven, Issue 121, September/October 2004

Combining techniques to create beautiful textile surfaces can be very rewarding! Handwoven dévoré, a complex fabric in its own right, can become even more dramatically patterned when it is combined with loom-woven shibori.

Dévoré, also known as burnout, is the technique of devouring (dévoré) the cellulose portion of a fabric by applying a solution that becomes a mild acid when it is ironed with dry heat. If the process is done with a core-spun cotton/polyester thread (cotton fibers wrapped around a polyester core), the cellulose (cotton) portion can be completely burned away, leaving only the polyester core. The burned-out areas are structurally sound but slightly transparent. (For more information, see Holly Brackmann, “Handwoven Devoré: More
Than Plain Weave,” Handwoven, January/February 2003, pages 48–52).

Handwoven weft shibori is a technique developed by Catharine Ellis based on a Japanese stitched resist technique (see Catharine Ellis, “Woven Shibori on Four Shafts,” Handwoven, September/October 2002, pages 44–47).


Handwoven dévoré meets handwoven shibori

In the project scarf, a plain-weave ground cloth is woven in core-spun cotton/polyester industrial sewing thread. Strong and slippery nylon upholstery thread is used as a monk’s belt pattern weft that becomes the gathering (“stitching”) threads for the shibori resist. After the cloth is removed from the loom, the floating weft threads are pulled tight to create the resist areas
for dyeing.

Soda-soak fiber reactive dyeing, woven shibori, vat dyeing, and dévoré stencil printing with disperse dyes are all used to create the surface design elements of the Red Rectangles scarf (at right in article).


Weaving the scarf fabric

Wind a warp of cotton/polyester industrial sewing thread and prepare the loom following Project at-a-. Alternate 4 picks of cotton/polyester (for the plain-weave ground cloth) and 1 pick of nylon upholstery thread (for the monk’s belt pattern weft) for 80" following the treadling directions in Figures 1 and 2 in the magazine.
Remove the scarf from the loom and make a 3-thread rolled hem with a serger or machine zigzag the ends. Use regular cotton/polyester sewing thread so that the hems will take the dye and burnout treatments exactly like the woven fabric. (Note that the pattern-weft floats are much longer and the pattern picks much farther apart than in a usual monk’s belt cloth. This is because instead of remaining in the cloth to create the pattern, the pattern weft threads will be gathered for the shibori dye process and then removed after it. The fabric that remains when they are removed is therefore plain weave, and the design is created by the contrast between the areas that accept the dye and those that are protected from the dye in the gathered folds. This scarf is dyed turquoise before the threads are gathered and dyed purple after they are gathered.)


Soda soak with fiber reactive dyes

Mix a soda-soak solution following the directions in Dye Recipes. Immerse the scarf in the soda-soak solution for 20 minutes. Wring out the excess solution and lay the scarf flat on a layer of plastic. Mix the fiber reactive dye for the background color (turquoise; see Dye Recipes) and apply it to the scarf by painting with a foam brush. Make sure the dye penetrates the fabric. Cover the scarf with plastic, roll up the fabric and plastic layers, and let cure for 24 hours at a room temperature of 70 de- grees or warmer. Remove the scarf from the plastic and let dry completely. Rinse the scarf thoroughly to remove excess dye, soda, and salt. Wash gently in detergent, rinse and hang to dry.


Gathering the nylon pattern threads

Beginning at one end, pull up the loops of the nylon weft threads along one selvedge of the scarf. Tie the loops together in groups of 4 threads (2 loops) with an overhand knot. When you have pulled all the threads on one side, turn the scarf so you can pull the threads from the other side. On this side, as you pull each loop of weft, cut the loop and pull on the 2 threads separately as tightly as you can. Then use 2 pairs of threads to make a square knot (4 threads total) very tightly against the woven fabric. For an even gathering, make sure the ties on opposite selvedges use the same four threads. At this point, the scarf will have collapsed into a very narrow, stiff object.


Vat dye

Vat dyes work very quickly, color only the surface, do not soak deep into fabric folds, and therefore are excellent for shibori. Vat dyes use a process called reduction, which employs thiourea dioxide (thiox) and lye at a specific temperature (120– 140°F) to attach the dye to the fabric. The reduction dyebath is a clear blue, which changes to violet when the fabric is removed and the oxygen in the air combines with the dye. Follow the vat dye steps in Dye Recipes section of the article to dye the gathered scarf purple and be especially careful to observe all safety precautions.


Open up the shibori

Now you get to see the shibori design! Using small pointed scissors, carefully cut along one side of the scarf. Open up the fabric and remove the gathering threads. The scarf will show turquoise areas created by the fiber-reactive dye (protected by the gathering folds) and violet areas created by the vat dye. Wash the fabric in detergent, rinse well, and dry. Press the scarf firmly using a permanent press setting.


Stencil printing

Create a stencil for printing by cutting two 5" x 8" pieces of fusible heavyweight
or window-shade interfacing and one 5" x 8" piece of nylon net or tulle. With the
fusible sides of the interfacing held together cut out a rectangular window with an Exacto knife. Place the netting between the two pieces of interfacing, lining up the cut out rectangles and press them together with a steam iron following the manufacturer’s instructions for fusing the interfacing.

Coat both sides of the stencil with acrylic craft paint, which will keep moisture and the burnout solution from penetrating the interfacing stencil. Hang on a line to dry. (If the stencil begins to come apart when printing, wash out the burnout solution, allow the stencil to dry, and iron again to refuse and reuse.) Core-spun cotton/poly fabrics can be dyed and burned out in one step by using disperse dye mixed with Fiber-Etch. Place a layer of newspaper, then plastic wrap under the scarf length before stenciling to pad and protect the table or counter surface. Hold the stencil against the fabric and force the burnout solution (Prosperse #360 red disperse dye mixed with Fiber Etch is used in this scarf) through the netting with a stencil brush. Go over the open areas with the brush several times until the solution penetrates the cloth thoroughly. Dry the printed fabric with a hair dryer or allow to air dry.



The next step adds transparency and even more color to the scarf! Place the printed scarf on an ironing board covered with a piece of aluminum foil. To protect the iron soleplate, put aluminum foil or a Teflon sheet on top of the scarf. Using the permanent press setting, dry iron each design for one minute, keeping the iron in motion. The burnout/dye solution should darken slightly as you iron.  Wash the fabric gently by hand or in the washer (2 minutes agitation in warm water) with detergent.  The cotton fibers that were in contact with the burnout solution will be washed away.  Press. Apply a drop of Fray Block to each corner of the scarf. Trim the tails of the hemming threads when the glue is dry. The completed scarf now has turquoise and violet patterns with transparent red dévoré rectangles!


Project At-A-Glance

Weave Structure - Monk’s belt

Equipment- use 2-shaft or 4-shaft loom, 9 1⁄2" weaving width; 12-dent reed; 2 shuttles.



Warp: Coats T-105 cotton/ polyester industrial sewing thread (4,700 yd/lb), 741 yd (2 3/5 oz).
Ground weft: Coats T-105 cotton/polyester industrial sewing thread (4,700 yd/lb),
604yd (2 oz).
Pattern weft: Coats nylon upholstery thread (150 yd/spool), white, 150 yd; (any strong, smooth, slippery undyed thread can be used).


Other materials and equipment

Fiber reactive dye #25 Turquoise, vat dye Violet #39, Prosperse #360 red disperse dye, Fiber- Etch, soda ash, thiourea dioxide (thiox), salt, stencil brush, acrylic craft paint, Teflon sheet, aluminum foil, Fray Block, lye, plastic wrap; two 5" x 8" pieces of fusible heavyweight or window- shade interfacing, one 5" x 8" piece of nylon net or tulle, Exacto knife. See recipes for amounts of dyes and chemicals (only small amounts are required; purchase the smallest amounts available).


Yarn and dye sources

T-105 cotton/polyester industrial thread is available from Textura Trading Company, Coats nylon upholstery thread from most fabric stores. Fiber-Etch is available from Silkpaint Corporation, vat dyes from Aljo Manufacturing Co., fiber-reactive dyes and dye chemicals from Dharma Trading Co and Pro- Chemical & Dye, stencil brushes and acrylic craft paint from craft stores, Teflon sheets from Clotilde, Fray Block from fabric stores, lye from grocery stores.


Warp order and length

228 ends 3 1/4 yd long allows 4” take-up and 33” loom waste


Warp and weft spacing

Warp: 24 epi (2/dent in a 12-dent reed). Width in the reed: 9 1⁄2"
Ground weft: 26 picks of cotton/polyester industrial sewing thread per inch Pattern weft: 6 1⁄2 nylon upholstery threads per inch). Woven length (measured under tension on the loom): 80"


Finished dimensions

After soaking in soda ash, dyeing with fiber reactive dyes, dyeing with vat dyes, washing, burning out designs, and washing again, amounts produce one hemmed scarf 8 1⁄4" x 72.”



1.  Use equipment only for dyeing, not for food.
2.  Wear old clothes and an apron or smock.
3.  Gloves and dust mask should be used when mixing powdered chemicals and dyes.
4.  Wear eye protection and gloves when using lye and the vat dyes.
5.  Wipe up spills immediately with a damp paper towel.
6.  Do not eat or drink while working with dyes.
7.  Use non-reactive plastic cups, buckets, spoons and stainless or enamel pots.
8.  When you are ironing the burnout and working with vat dyes, use an acid gas respirator and work in a well-ventilated area or out of doors. This is very important!



Step 1: Mix 1⁄2cup soda ash in 1 gallon water until dissolved.
Step 2: Soak the fabric for 20 min. This solution keeps indefinitely in a covered plastic bucket.



Step 1: Mix 1 tsp fiber reactive dye powder with 1 cup water.
Step 2: Add 3 tsp salt.
Step 3: Stir well. This will produce a medium strong color. Vary the amount of dye depending on the intensity desired. Use a proportion of three times as much salt as dye.


Step 1: Wet the fabric by soaking overnight in water.
Step 2:  Measure 1 gallon water in a stainless steel, or enamel pot.
Step 3: Measure 1 tbsp. liquid or powder dye. If using dye powder, begin by dissolving in a small amount of water.
Step 4: Lye is extremely caustic and great care must be taken to protect eyes and skin. Wear goggles, an apron, respirator, and gloves. This is extremely important when using lye! Measure 1 cup COLD water in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel container. Carefully add 2 tbsp lye. Make sure you add the lye to COLD water. This is a dangerous process and should be implemented with extreme caution.
Step 5: Measure 1⁄2 teaspoon thiourea dioxide (thiox) and dissolve in the lye solution.
Step 6: Stir the dye, lye, and thiox into the dye-bath water and heat to 120– 140°F. When the bath reaches the correct temperature, it should be in the fully reduced state and a clear blue color. Test the dye color by placing a white paper towel or plastic spoon in the dye pot. When you remove the towel, the dye color should oxidize and change to the final violet color.
Step 7: Carefully add the wet fabric to the bath and dye for 2 min. Move the fabric gently in the dye bath.
Step 8: Squeeze out the excess dye and remove the cloth from the dye pot.
Step 9: Rinse the fabric in water and hang to oxidize for at least 10 min until it changes to a violet color.
Vat dyes can be used again. Store in a tightly covered, nonreactive container. To use again, add 1⁄2 teaspoon of thiox and heat the dye bath gently to 140°F.



Step 1: Mix 1⁄2cup of boiling water and 8 tsp Prosperse #360 red dye.
Step 2: Stir the dye until dissolved, let cool, and stir again.
Step 3: Mix 1⁄4 cup Fiber-Etch with 11⁄2 tsp. disperse dye solution (from Step 2).


IF. . .

…..you  don’t want to do so many different dye processes, you can skip some. If you skip the fiber-reactive dye step, your scarf will show white where this one is turquoise. You can skip the shibori and vat dye process (in this case, thread the loom for plain weave only), dye the scarf turquoise (or use commercially dyed yarn), and then follow the burnout steps. Your scarf will be turquoise with transparent red rectangles. Or, you can skip the burnout process so that your scarf will not have red rectangles.

……you want to design your own burnout areas, choose any simple shapes with smooth edges to cut from the pieces of fusible interfacing.



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