Hill Tribe Indigo Dye – From Plant To Fabric

Hill Tribe Indigo Dye - Traditional Dying From Plant To Fabric

We’re proud to work with many hill tribe communities like the Hmong in Northern Thailand who still practice traditional indigo dyeing methods – from plant to fabric.

We’re proud to work with many hill tribe communities, like the Hmong in Northern Thailand, who still practice traditional indigo dyeing methods, from plant to fabric.

The natural process of creating dye using leaves from the indigo plant has been practiced by various hill tribes in Southeast Asia for centuries. Along with traditional hand-applied batik, which we explored here, it is a labor-intensive process that takes much time, care, and knowledge.

For example, our hill tribe indigo sheets can take weeks to be produced. The cotton needs to be spun, dyed, and then left to dry, which is all dependent on the season and abundance of the indigo plant.

Pure Indigo Dyed Sheet Fabric Plant Hill Tribe Hmong

Hill Tribe Indigo Dye - The Dyeing Process

Starting the Process by Harvesting the Indigo Leaves: When it is time to harvest, hill tribe artisans will gather as many mature indigo leaves as possible from the indigo plants. 

Next, the Fermentation Process: All those freshly harvested leaves are gathered together and piled up nicely inside a large container or pit (like a vat) before water is added.
Then, just a little bit of patience is needed. This is the beginning of the fermentation process, which helps convert the indigo pigment into a water-soluble form. 

Extracting That Beautiful Indigo Paste: After several days of fermentation, it’s draining time.
The leaves are drained, and as much pigment-rich paste as possible is collected.

Preparing the Fabric: The fabric or textile to be dyed is soaked in water, nice and wet, to prepare it for dyeing.

Finally, Dyeing the Fabric: Dyeing the fabric is pretty simple; it’s simply immersed in the paste-liquid mixture now in the vat.
When the cloth is initially removed from the dye bath, it is actually green, but this isn’t a mix-up with colors. Once exposed to oxygen, the indigo dye oxidizes and turns into its characteristic deep blue color. The dyed fabric is often dipped multiple times to achieve the desired intensity of color.

Creating Darker Shades: For darker shades, the fabric can be dipped and oxidized several times.

The Hill Tribe Indigo Dye Process

Traditional Hill Tribe Textiles & Crafts

We love to use traditional hill tribe textiles to create many of our products, especially when creating cushions, pillows, and ottomans. One of our most popular pieces is our zig-zag indigo batik ottoman, with a rich indigo shade and classic indigo batik pattern that instantly draws your eyes to it in any space. Of course, it’s amazingly comfortable too, and it’s filled with natural organic kapok from the Ceiba tree.

We also stock raw textiles—indigo-dyed, batik, handwoven hemp, and more—in our textiles and fabric section.

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