Upcycle a Bedsheet to a Dress with this Tutorial
Hey y’all – today I’m sharing my last sundress of the series, this shibori dyed bedsheet that I turned into my favorite new thing to wear when it’s so hot that I just can’t even. I’ll show you a few techniques using indigo dye and share the pattern so you can make your own.
Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. The word comes from the verb root shiboru, “to wring, squeeze, press.” (Source).
I’ve been fascinated with shibori technique ever since I first saw it – I love that it’s often done with indigo, first of all, and that it’s like a more sophisticated version of the tie dye t-shirts I made as a kid. But I hadn’t tried it myself until this spring, when I finally bought an indigo kit and dyed some old white bedsheets I’ve been hoarding.
The fabric then sat on my shelf for quite a while as I decided what I wanted to make with it. Because this fabric was from high thread count cotton fitted sheet that had been washed over and over until it was sooooo soft. So soft that it ripped in a threadbare spot and I couldn’t use it as a sheet anymore. But with yards of useable fabric outside that threadbare area, I couldn’t throw the sheet away either. So I have to say, this feels great to wear. Like slipping into your softest clean sheets.
It was hard to fold such a large piece of fabric for dyeing, but I didn’t want to cut the sheet until I decided what to sew from it. And I’m glad it worked out the way it did, because I really like the way that the dye ended up.
Supplies for Indigo Dyeing (contains affiliate links to the products I used)
- Natural cellulose based fabric – cotton, hemp, linen, rayon (which is man made of cellulose) and bamboo all work. I’ve heard you can do silk and wool (which are natural protein based fabrics) but I haven’t tried them.
- An indigo dyeing kit
- Gloves The kit comes with gloves, but I like the longer ones to be safe
- Rubber Bands
- Resists – the kit comes with a few popsicle sticks and two balsawood blocks, but I also used dowel rods, PVC pipe, and more plywood blocks as resists on mine. Stones are another commonly used resist to create circle patterns, much like classic tie dye projects
- A 5 gallon bucket with a lid.
- Synthrapol (for washing after dye sets)
Indigo dyeing is a little bit different than dyeing with RIT or even with the procion dyes I like to use instead of RIT. It requires a more ingredients and a different technique to create the chemical reaction that suspends the indigo particles in water then lets them oxidize to bond to the fabric. That’s why I like to use a kit. Also this kit contains pretty good instructions.
So here’s a little video of how to fold your fabric for a few different shibori patterns. For my dress I did the pleating and triangle folding, then added the wood blocks. If you can’t see it below, you can also watch it on YouTube here.
Now to sew the dress – really, this is just a swingy-er version of my Bias Sundress. So start with the pattern from that dress, then alter it by moving the side seam out 1 3/8 inches at the bottom as shown below.
Then you can follow all the instructions from that dress to sew, just don’t add the waist casing. That’s it! Same dress, different look.