You Can’t Resist These Resist Techniques

One of the most exciting ways to change the look of fabric is through resist dyeing techniques. Resist-dyeing is one of the oldest ways to transform cloth, used the world over. These methods are exciting, because they are unpredictable-perfect if you're a person who likes to play, because each time you get a different result.

Many people are familiar with the concept of batik, where you use wax to resist successive layers of dye to create a design. And who hasn't tie-dyed a t-shirt at camp or in Girl Scouts? That's a shaped-resist technique, usually using rubber bands. A similar method, known by the Japanese term shibori, creates patterns on the cloth by binding, stitching, folding, twisting, or compressing it, usually holding the fabric together with stitching.

In the current issue of Quilting Arts, Sue Cavanaugh shows how to take shibori to the extreme, covering the cloth with the mokume and ori-nut stitches to create pattern. Mokume means wood grain, and is traditionally done in rows of stitches with no attempt to line them up. Ori-nut creates a tooth-like pattern done on the fold.

Sue makes a sketch of the pattern she wants to create and then folds and stitches the cloth to execute the design before painting on her dyes. This is an intense but relatively easy way to create a resist: all you need is your sketch, cloth, needle and thread, and your dyeing supplies.

If resist-dyeing appeals to you, there are many more techniques to discover. Over the years in Quilting Arts Magazine, we've explored:

Snow resist with Judi Yakab (October/November 2009). This fun and easy technique creates an all-over, mottled texture.

Flour paste resist with Jane Dunnewold (February/March 2008). Another low-tech and fun, if messy, method for adding line and texture to fabric.

Glue gel resist with Cynthia St. Charles (February/March 2009). Elmer's® Washable School Glue and fabric paints are an easy way to infuse cloth with color and pattern.

India Ink resist with Jane Dunnewold (August/September 2008). After a template is made from painting white acrylic onto watercolor paper, India ink is applied and transferred to the fabric to create a design. This forgiving process couldn't be simpler.

Freezer paper resist with Melanie Testa (Spring 2006). Use your imagination to cut patterns out of freezer paper-the way you make paper snowflakes-and iron them onto your fabric. Then, paint on your dyes.

Gutta resist on silk with Joanell Connolly (Quilting Arts April May 2007). "Draw" the resist onto the silk to create closed shapes, then color in within the lines for stunning effects.

If you have a favorite way to resist, we'd like to hear about it. In the meantime, pick a resist, any resist, from this list, and start experimenting.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog

2 thoughts on “You Can’t Resist These Resist Techniques

  1. I am interested in teaching Resist-Dye and discharge print infused with resist fabric design techniques to quilters.
    i am an indigenous fabric/textile artist from Ghana with quite a different unique twist to these techniques.
    I have given workshops to quilters and fabric artists at cultured expressions,harlem textile works,Newark Museum to mention but a few.The grwoth of interest in learning and or taking these classes over and over again leaves much to be desired.As such i am focused on getting to be known by more enthusiasts such as quilters to share my trade technique secrets with.Thanks.

  2. I love that you added all the magazine references so I could go right to the issue and find the article.
    And the timing was great. I’d like to see you group other techniques and give us the references.