Our Camden studio will not be open this Saturday, instead we are open Saturday 8th October. No appointment necessary.

Indigo Dye

27 October 2019

The rich blue shades of real indigo dye are instantly recognisable and tremendously popular. Around for centuries, indigo is one of the oldest dyes used for textiles and a firm Cloth House favourite. There is a character and depth of colour with natural dye that is not achievable with synthetic dyes, and the unpredictability of natural dyes is well suited to small scale dyeing.

The plant that produces indigo depends on the region, whether grown in tropical India or subtropical Japan. Indigo dye is an organic compound made from leaves that are broken down through a process of fermentation and composting. There are many variation in dye vat recipes, some using fruit and other botanicals and some using ingredients from your local hardware shop. A typical Indigo vat is like a living organism and needs to be constantly nurtured.

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The beauty of Indigo dye and indeed all natural dyes is in the unpredictability of the results. Vegetables and botanicals contain impurities meaning each dye batch can contains hundreds of natural variants that can cause irregular results and beautiful colour variations. As the cloth is pulled from the vat it appears green until exposure to the air oxidises the dye and turns it blue. Each time the cloth is dipped and exposed to the air the shade of blue gets deeper. Dyeing with indigo is a process that requires time, accuracy and skill. The colour achieved depends on the type of vat used and the number of times the fabric is dipped. Darker indigo shades are achieved with multiple dips rather than a stronger dye bath.

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We love the variety of shades that Indigo can achieve. The deep blue/black colour of the Japanese Kendo fabric is popular with martial artists as it represents victory, while the dusty pale blues of our Indian cotton khadi inspires memories of hot sunny days. Indigo ages beautifully and the living colour continues to evolve through wearing, washing and exposure to the sun.

You can purchase real indigo dye from our online shop and we have recipes available online too. Sadly we cannot ship the indigo dye outside of the UK.