Thank God for samples

30 October 2007


For the maki-age challenge I decided I wanted to make pine cones on some of my jackets. When I was in California in June some very dear friends took me for a picnic among the sequoias so sequoia pine cones seem to be the right inspiration:


 Maki-age Pine Cones

 Maki-age seems like the perfect technique.  I’m worried about the spaces between the bound shapes, if it is too small the dye won’t penetrate and the design will loose its focus.  So a sample is in order, and I have plenty of scraps of the silk noil gauze  from making the jackets.  So I enlarge the design (the pine cone without the stem is about 8" high)and traced it onto the cloth:


I drew two pine cones; one with the purple dressmakers marker (Dritz Disappearing Ink Marking Pen) and this one with the pencils I use for tie-dye (EZ hot-iron transfer pencil).   Both gave me problems on the nubby, very absorbent surface of the silk noil.  I tried 3 different purple making pens and none of them put out enough ink to clearly mark the cloth; I had a faint lines with gaps.  The pencil, which I use to write on damp T-shirts when I’m preparing them for tie-dyeing wouldn’t write on the dry noil, I had to dip the pencil in water to get it to write.

I stitched each little motif for maki-age.  The stem I did last and did in a open satin stitch that gathers the stem.  Then I gathered and tied off each section (required band-aids for blisters):

Now I bound each section, I dampened the cloth with a spray bottle so that the cloth compresses well.  Since the poofs were already formed I sort of use the kanoko binding technique; forming a half-hitch over my fingers, transferring it to the poof and then pull it tight.  I put 2-3 half-hitches on each poof, all 17 of them.


The poofs were small and I was concerned about getting them effectively bound but each was hard after I got it bound.  I soaked it then dyed it in a dark brown Lanaset dye bath.


Obviously the Lanaset does NOT dye cotton string, the color contrast makes of easier removal of the binding string.  A seam ripper helps get out the stitching thread.


Well I may have bound it too much, I’d like a little more patterning inside each motif.  Next time I’ll just put one half-hitch on each poof and I might be a bit more brown dye in the white areas.  This still wet and although  I don’t usually wash the Lanaset dyes until they dry, I washed this one to get rid of the marking lines.

 I washed it with Orvus, NADA.  I tried Synthrapol. I tried all the laundry stain removers I have; nada, NADA. 

Ok, this bright pink is there forever, can I tone it down?  I mixed a bit of green dye into some print paste and painted it on the pine cone  several times and then heat set it.   The white turned chartruse and the pink may be a little duller but it still dominates the design.  Finished design:

Thank god it is only a sample!  I hate pink at this moment.

I have used these pencils on cotton T-shirts for years and they disappear, never had this happen before. Silk takes dye sooo much easier than cotton.  Usually when I soak the T’s before dyeing the red line disappear.  Didn’t when I soaked the silk.  Then the dyebath was acid and heated where the cotton dyes are alkaline and not heated.  I now see that it says

"The heat melts the design into fabric and becomes permanent."

I’m looking for soft graphite pencils.  On to the next mistake. 




Three step maki-age

15 October 2007

Multicolored ground

It doesn’t take long for an artist applying color with a brush, even a sponge brush, to start using more colors. So here is a ground I painted for the samples for the hygragena jackets.

Using this as The starting point; I stitched and bound the motifs and dyed the cloth the lavender grey I’ve been using.


These look different from the pink ones.  But the process can be complicated even more by discharging before dying the grey.  The grey covers the colors well, you can’t see the mulicolored ground under the grey so why bother.  Discharge halos !  Discharge always penetrates farther than the dye does leaving little bands with no added color where you can see the discharge color—HALOS. The motif I chose as the icon for this challenge was discharged and has distinct halos making the pattern within the motif even more mysterious.



 Maki-age is very similar to capped motifs, where the motif is covered with plastic instead of bound, and I tried both in this test. The  three-step process (we haven’t gotten to the 12-step one yetWink)  as follows:

Stitch and bind the motifs on the mutlicolored ground. Soak. Discharge.




Then dye.


Then carefully remove all the threads. My favorite tool for this is a seam ripper.




Here is another piece from Pat Freiert that shows a three-step process.


The challenge

I’m just thrilled with the work and learning that is going on among the 15 participants in the challenge and visible at the  Maki-age Shibori Challenge Flickr group. There is still time to join us.  Just try a piece this month and upload a picture before Halloween is over.


Indigo and white is a classic color combination that I love and the Japanese adore.  But it is not right for all situtations.  Sometimes we just need another color.  White, because of its extreme value ( or luminosity ) only works in few combination; dark indigo and white, black and white and red and white.  Previously I have immersion dyed the whole cloth before doing the maki-age resists and dyeing with the following results:


Here the silk noil gauze was immersion dyed with Lanaset dyes a pinky beige and then dyed again in the lavender grey giving me very tight control over the colors.

In my experience with dyeing, immersion dyeing is my favorite for the quality of the color achieved.  It gives a kind of stained glass quality to the color that I thinks comes from the total penetration of the dye into the fiber.  If you cut a fiber that has been dyed and look at the  cross section thus the color goes all the way through.  This is the most easily observed in china silk that is translucent.  Anyhow I like these colors that are achieved by immersion dyeing.

Direct application such as painting on thickened dyes, even the same ones, give whimpy colors to my eyes.  I tried the so called silk paints such as Pebeo Soie testing the theory that these are more concentrated/better designed for this application.  Before and after steaming, I still precieve the colors as whimpy; kind of chalky more like the colors of tempera paint than stained glass.  Silk painters use a lot of crepe de chine which has a very high surface area and gives richer color.  So I think that these are only binding to the surface of the fiber not penetrating all the way through. 

In my experimentation I have found one method that I think gives  richer colors and that is using foam to hold the dye.  The dye stock and acid are mixed into the the foam, usually shaving cream.  This holds the dye and you can see it transfer from the foam to the fabric.  This is a technique used in industry when dyeing things they don’t want to get sopping wet, such as carpet and ties.  So here are some process pictures from samples I made last spring .


Here is the thin noil, you can see the grey table top through it, marked with motifs and some dots for kanoko bindings.  I used a dressmakers marking pen that uses a fugative dye.  The purple lines disappear the first time it gets wet.


Next the perimeter of each motif is stitched with a running stitch.  You can see the large knots and long tails  on each motif.  The dots have been bound, they will remain white.


Then I mixed the dye stock and acid into the shaving cream.  The pink foam was daubed on the dry cloth inside the motifs.  Notice how the dye is moving from the foam to the fiber and the foam turns white.  more can be applied if you want a more intense color.


When the color value, actually darker since it is now damp, you want is achieved, let the foam dissipate and then gather the stitches.  Then bind the gathered motif.  Binding damp cloth gives a lot of compression, you can feel how hard the bound part is.  When the binding is complete, the cloth is soaked and then dyed in a dark lavender grey immersion dye bath.  Any pink dye outside the motif will come off in the soaking or the intial dye bath, then the heat of the immersion dye bath will set the remaining pink.


Sometime we percieve that the resists are just the strings.  Here you can clearly see pink areas that are not just under the strings.  The cloth is just so tightly compressed that the dye could not penetrate. Other parts such as the tips are lose and they did dye the darker color.  


Careful removal of the threads  was sucessfull, and the design has white dots, pink motifs and a on a grey ground.  This method of spot dyeing opens  many color options for magi-age.

Maki-age photo album

8 October 2007

These are examples I found on the web:

from Laura but made in Arimatsu Japan.













All of these last photos were made in a Workshop in Coupville this summer

Trouble shooting Maki-age

7 October 2007

I’m not happy with these:


These are two Maki-age samples that I made for my jackets last winter.  Thery are done on a gauzy silk noil.  It was dyed with Lanaset dyes the neutral color I call Rose-gold  after the metal.  Then I stitched and bound my shapes and dyed it a grey in a Lanaset immersion bath.  Now I have pink and lavender blue (having to do with the juxtaposition of the two neutral colors).  Most of the maki-age we have seen is just one color, such as indigo, on white/natural.  By adding a color before making the resists a degree of complexity has been added to the design.  Also I find white a hard color to work with and make interesting combinations since no other color has a similar value (luminosisty).  I do like dk. indigo and white but not all the time.

Inspecting of the motifs, one can see the needle holes  near the bottom edge of the right motif and the stitch resist at the edge is well defined.  However the edges of the motif, espcially at the arrows  there are areas where the grey dye did not penetrate well.    The two motifs are less than an inch apart and when both motifs are gathered  the cloth in this area is all bunched together and yet it is supposed to dye.   To get the dye to penetrate well in these jammed up places you have to work the cloth in the dyebath.  That means that while dyeing, the sooner the better, put on your gloves, put your hands in the dyebath and move that cloth around, pushing up down parts with your fingers, and down parts up.  Swish it around in the dyepot and then do it again, rearranging the gathers that have formed in the background.  My goal is to get the grey right up to the resists created by the stitches.  This gives the best definition to the stitches to my eye.

In the lower left corner there is an unintentional tail on the motif.  WhenI tied the gathering stiches I must have caught a little bit of cloth here that then got bound up.  I’ve gotten in the habit of checking as I gather and after that all the cloth that should be up in the poof is up and the rest is down.   It is quite common for a little bit of cloth that should be up to stick a little toe down and visa versa.  Anyone who has sewn a gathered skirt to a waistband knows how easy it is to have the gathers catch a bit in the wrong place.  Anyhow checking and rearranging the gathers before you tie off can help avoid this. 

I made a jacket in March  with a collection of these motifs, got the space between the motifs well dyed and no little bits of cloth in the wrong position and then cutting the threads I got this



  a tiny, tiny hole.  A hole none the less!


More Maki-age

6 October 2007

 Maki-age combined with spot-dyeing

Here is a Japanese piece with maki-age (radishes?), ori-nui (lines) and spot dyeing.  Nice, eh?  From Narablog where you can see a larger image. 

Maki-age Tutorial

5 October 2007

Tutorial at Tobasign

Tobasign , a company that sells dyes in Europe, has a 17 photo tutorial of how to do Maki-age. Here is a sampling of the very clear photos:









The tutorial is 17 clear pictures at the TobaSign site with many languages, but you don’t need words to understand the pictures.  The dyeing part is specific for their dyes, which appear to be a liquid fiber reactive dyes (low temp., salt and fixer later).  You can change the dyeing part for the dyes you are using.

Maki-age Challenge

3 October 2007


 I’m very pleased (remember I’m a Mid-westerner) that people want to articipate in the challenge.  I hope everyone shares lots of photos, process and results, and we all learn a lot.

One reason I chose maki-age is that it can produce both patterns, my personal interest, and images.  So do what ever puts a buzz in your bonnet. 




All these images are from Chinese Traditional, worth looking at more there. 

Would you make these for $15.50? but that is another topic, not ours.

First I notice that the indigo background is deep and smooth in color– a nice contrast to the patterned areas.  Also other techniques are combined with the maki-age for the over all design.  Are those tiny butterflies around the edge of the bottom-most square?  It is suprising to me how white or light the maki-age areas are.  In the middle piece, I see four values of indigo, the background is the darkest and the maki-age central panel is the lightest.  It is almost as light as white shadow shibori. The bottom-most square has the darkest maki-age areas, not sure why-maybe the motifs are not as tight to each other and more dark background shows theough.

maki-age icon

The Challenge

Maki-age or stitch and bind is a very simple shibori technique.  The tools required to execute are simple; needle,thread and more thread or string to bind, dye.  It works on nearly all fabrics.  It works with dyes, discharge, devore.  The designs can be naive or sofisticated, the choice is the maker’s.  A nice choice for a first ever shibori challenge here at ENTWINEMENTS.

All of you are invited to participate in the Maki-age Shibori Challenge this month, October 2007.   Make your own maki-age shibori piece and post it to the Maki-age Shibori Challenge Group at Flickr.  Start with white or natural fabric and make your own maki-age and then upload a picture here. You can share photos of the just the finished piece and/or of the process. Please tell us the size of the piece, the fiber and kind of dye used. The more information you share the richer the experience for all.

If you have any trouble joining the group email me at , you will have to change the AT to the symbol.  I’m trying to prevent spam.

 Maki-age or Stitch and Bind

Maki-age is Japanese and the translation that makes a lot of sense is pattern within a motif. This ia an accurate description of what you get with this technique.  Stitch and bind is a description of what you do.  I have shown how I made the motif above at Design Samples.  The basic steps are:

  1. Stitch around the perimeter of a closed motif with strong thread.  Come out where you started.
  2. Gather the cloth on the thread and tie off.  This will form a poof of cloth above the gathering stitches.
  3. Bind the poof by wrapping thread around it,  Tie and trim the thread.
  4. Soak the bound cloth in water before dyeing.
  5. Dye.

Dyeing here loosely interperted as any wet process; could be discharge.  This silk noil was dyed many colors, then stitched and gathered, discharged and then over-dyed.   

 Examples of Maki-age 

In my blog:

Other web sites: 

Rising Sun Imports

Peacock Imports 

square rose , ammonite  ,  mandala 1             mandala 2



If you know of more pictures of this techniques on the web please post the URL in the comments.