Hill Tribe Indigo Dye – Traditional Dyeing 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.

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 dependant 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

Harvesting the Indigo Leaves: Hill tribe artisans gather mature indigo leaves from indigo plants grown in their local environment.

The Fermentation Process:  The harvested leaves are piled together in a large container or pit and water is added to start the fermentation process. This fermentation helps convert the indigo pigment into a water-soluble form.

Extracting Indigo Paste:  After several days of fermentation, the indigo leaves are drained, and the remaining pigment-rich paste is collected.

Preparing The Fabric: The textile to be dyed is soaked in water to prepare it for dyeing.

Dyeing The Fabric: The soaked fabric is immersed in the indigo paste mixture. When the cloth is removed from the dye bath, it initially appears green. However, upon exposure 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, available 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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