Picture of Indigo Dyed Beach Towels
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Being a big fan of the beach, I'm always on the lookout for fun towels to accompany me on my sea side adventures. I got it in my head that I wanted one that was indigo dyed in the Japanese shibori style, but couldn't find one anywhere on the inter tubes. So I decided to make my own!

I made two versions, one using a hard to fold, big 'n puffy fancy towel, and another one using a thin, cheaper towel that allowed me to try a traditional folding technique. I love how they both came out - the thinner, more lightweight one will be great for quick dips, while the bigger one will be perfect for all day luxury lounging.

Indigo dying is an ancient art dating back to Egyptian times. Both the natural and synthetic versions are incredibly color-fast (permanent), so there shouldn't be any transfer of the dye to your skin after a swim. The manual that comes with the natural plant based dye kit I recommend buying in the next step has a great write up on the history of the indigo dye if you're interested in learning more about it's fancy past.

Let's get started!

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Step 1: Video Overview

Here is a quick project overview compliments of Instructables' talented videographer Jon Brown:

ooohlaa3 days ago

luvlee luvlee ... thanx excellent job straightaway!

Zannzanny7 months ago

I love the shibori technique. Your towels are so beautiful and your instructions are clear. :)

Paige Russell (author)  Zannzanny7 months ago

Thanks Zannzanny!

Threemoons7 months ago

QUESTION: I really want to try this, but I have owned traditional indigo-dyed things in the past and have seen a number of suggestions RE how to clean them.

What worked for me--and seems to keep the dye vivid--was hand-washing in cold water mixed with a LOT of salt and good ol' dish detergent, NOT laundry detergent. I have a pair of cotton pants from Indonesia that have stayed bright for 20 years this way, but is my method correct or just overkill?

Thanks so much for sharing this project and for lighting a fire under my butt to get moving on it; I have a bunch of cotton things I want to dye up this way.

Paige Russell (author)  Threemoons7 months ago

Yay for fires under butts! : )

Re: cleaning - Indigo is an incredibly color fast dye, so I've found that washing it in the machine with cold water and a mild laundry detergent works just fine - especially for the towels that would be a pain to hand wash. If you're concerned about fading, hanging the items to dry and avoiding the dryer would help keep the blues bright! Happy crafting.

Passion Make7 months ago

Wow! Love the designs you got. The designs you got with rubber bands are my favorite. In India this design is called 'Bandhani'. Voted for you :)

Paige Russell (author)  Passion Make7 months ago

Thanks Passion Make!

jmdushi7 months ago
They are both beautiful but the one you made with the blocks is my favourite.
Paige Russell (author)  jmdushi7 months ago

It was by far the easier to make, so you chose well. ;)

AngryRedhead7 months ago

Wonderful idea and so, so pretty!

Paige Russell (author)  AngryRedhead7 months ago

Thanks AngryRedhead!

jessyratfink7 months ago

That crab is totally impressed, for sure! Also super excited to see how you did these finally. :D

Paige Russell (author)  jessyratfink7 months ago

: )

Beaconsfield7 months ago
These came out so well! Nice job Paige!
mnmama7 months ago

These are beautiful, and you took very nice pictures of the steps. Quick question; I've tied/wrapped/banded my cloth after it's wet in water. Don't you think it would be easier to fold your smaller towel and then bind it in the panels after it is wet, rather than trying to get water all the way into the middle with the panels in the way?

Great job, and nice picture of your little friend.