Fall/Winter '18 HAND DYED INDIGO Collection :) August 26, 2018 10:36

As you guys know, once the sustainable fabric we source hits our door, ALL production - from the design process to cut and sew - is Made in Kansas City... by women...right in the city we're headquartered!  Pretty badass, huh???

For our upcoming collection, we decided to do something we've never done before - collaborate with a local Kansas City Maker, Alyx Jacobs to HAND DYE our fabrics with INDIGO!

Meet Alyx - isn't she a BABE???  She's got the brains (graduated from Kansas City Art Institute), the skills (I mean check out her dye atistry below, hello! :)) and the HEART!  

Below is a portrayal of the entire dye process in collaboration with MADI Apparel!  Tara Shupe gorgeously captured every moment of the fabric dying through brilliant photos.

Alyx explains the steps here:

"First, the fabric.

Natural cellulose fibers such as linen, hemp, bamboo and cotton are best for dyeing with indigo. Indigo will not take to synthetic fibers because they do not have the pores to allow for the indigo dye to hold onto. Indigo dye is water-soluble when it is in the reduced form. When the dye is exposed to air it begins to oxidize and becomes insoluble in water. So, any indigo molecules that are inside of the fiber at that moment become stuck.

Okay, I’m done with my science lesson. Let’s just pretend that it’s magic! (Once you see the process, you’ll agree that magic is the only explanation)

For MADI Apparel, we used a viscose fabric from natural bamboo. This fabric is lightweight, breathable and soooo soft. The indigo dye loved the natural bamboo fibers and took to it very well, creating beautiful deep shades of blue.

There are several ways to make an indigo vat. The common thread is that each vat requires maintenance to keep it happy and thriving. Similar to a baby, an indigo vat needs warmth, a gentle touch and feeding when it gets fussy.

Now, let’s actually get into the vat.

The flower.

Before you begin dyeing, you must carefully scrape the flower off the top of the vat. This iridescent barrier protects the vat from coming in contact with oxygen and indicates a healthy vat.

The color.

One would think that a healthy indigo vat should be … well, indigo. This isn’t true! Your vat should be a yellow-green color that looks almost like Mountain Dew. (An indigo vat might be healthier to drink than Mountain Dew… just kidding. Don’t drink the vat.)

^^ Step 1. Wet the fabric.

You always want to wet the fabric before you dip it into the vat. This will saturate the pores of the fabric, which will allow for a uniform all-over color. Wring out the water before dipping into the vat.

^^ Step 2. Dip the fabric.

When dipping fabric into the vat, you want to avoid splashing, quick movements and air bubbles from underneath the surface. Keep the fabric submerged for 30 seconds to a minute and slowly move the fabric around in the vat so that the indigo can find its way into every bit of the fiber. Wring your fabric out underneath the surface and slowly lift the fabric out of the vat, making sure to avoid drips.

^^ Step 3. Rinse the fabric.

Vigorously rinsing the freshly dyed indigo fabric in cold water will help the oxidization process happen quicker. It is also good to rinse off any of the indigo sediment that may have gotten on the fabric in the vat.

^^ Step 4. Let the fabric oxidize.

This is where the magic happens. As the fabric oxidizes, you can watch it turn from green to that beautiful indigo color.

^^ Step 5. Hang to dry.

Once the fabric has fully oxidized, you can dip it again. The only way to build up color on a piece of indigo-dyed fabric is by dipping it multiple times. Your vat needs to be healthy and happy to produce a good, deep indigo color."

 

Thoughts from Alyx about the whole process and her life as an artist/maker...

"I have come to terms with the fact that I am not the indigo dyer who grows her own indigo on a farm and looks out into a field of flowers every day. As beautiful as I think that lifestyle is, it is just not my reality. I am an urban dyer. I work out of a studio in my house and dye in my backyard. I look out onto the busiest street in the city. I have a small garden that isn’t doing too well, and I listen to droned out metal music while I sweat in the heat of the Kansas City sun.

I am driven by the process of indigo dyeing. Functional goods that are made well should also be beautiful. In my studio, I use indigo-dyed linen to create hand-sewn quilts. I use a traditional Japanese style of hand-sewing called Sashiko. Sashiko stitching was used to extend the life of garments worn by fishers or farmers. This reinforcement could have easily been done without thought, but in the Japanese culture, function goes hand-in-hand with beauty. The process of indigo dyeing is also rooted in Japanese culture. Indigo dye was first used to create fireman’s uniforms because indigo is flame retardant, then dyers began to use methods of resist to create patterns on the indigo-dyed fabric (see! functional and beautiful)

Everything about indigo takes time. The process makes me slow down and be intentional about the work that I am making. I am constantly challenging myself to be more mindful in my life. It is really easy to take advantage of going into the fabric store and buying any color of fabric that you need without even batting an eyelash, but when you have to dip, wait, let oxidize, dip, wait, let oxidize, fully dry, wait more (etc.) to build up shades of color, you really appreciate the colors that you are getting because you have spent the time with each dip.

Since graduating, I have had a studio space in my house, so connecting with other artists has been difficult. I have been in an artistic funk for a year or so: wondering why I make what I do. But collaborating with Hayley and the women at MADI has been such an empowering experience. I have found a group of badass women who are doing what they have always wanted to do and are making their lives revolve around it. Which has given new life to why I make what I do.

^^From right to left: Hayley (founder and designer of MADI Apparel), Alyx (collaborating indigo dye artist), Miranda (women-owned business owner of one of MADI's two contracted cut/sew teams), Laura (women-owned business owner of one of MADI's two contracted cut/sew teams.)

Throughout this project, I have connected with creative people in Kansas City through the few workshops that I have hosted. Anyone who wants to dip their hands in the vat and give new life to old clothes, get their mind off of the stresses in their life or just walk around with blue hands are invited. I plan to have more workshops scheduled for the spring and summer of 2019."

Our Fall/Winter '18 collection is a small batch production run with very limited quantities.  Collection will launch September 18th.  Click to sign up for our emails to stay in the loop.

Photography: the talented and beautiful Tara Shupe Photography