Navigation Menu+

upcycling with indigo

Posted on Aug 4, 2011 by in indigo, natural dyes |

Sept. 2106 addendum: The post below describes one of my early experiments dyeing with natural indigo powder, but I used a synthetic reduction agent called Thiourea dioxide. Preferring not to use any chemicals, I am presently experimenting with a few different natural vats, based on information from Michel Garcia, via Maiwa. Recipes here.

My Japanese indigo crop has been flourishing this year, and I am looking forward to a second harvest soon. I have been using my homegrown dye primarily for yarn, but I have a lot of other needs for indigo, so I decided to start a vat using powdered natural indigo that I bought at Dharma Trading Company (

Part of this year’s first harvest of Japanese indigo on July 9th

The main project for my powdered indigo vat is to “upcycle” finds from thrift stores. A pair of yellow denim pants is now a lovely blue, a chartreuse cashmere sweater has become a beautiful dark indigo, a yellow silk blouse has turned to shades of aqua.

Thrift store finds that were once yellow or chartreuse, and have been transformed by a dip or two in the indigo vat.

I also had fun with some shibori, and look forward to further experiments with that. The scarf below took less than a half hour to create, from wrapping the fabric around a pole with string, to dipping it twice in the indigo vat.

Arashi shibori creates a watery design on this indigo-dyed silk scarf

My powdered indigo vat is still going strong, but I am looking forward to harvesting more of my own indigo next week. I will be picking up some yarn from a friend who raises sheep and dyeing it with my Japanese indigo. More about that soon.