An interview with tie-dye expert Shabd Simon-Alexander


Shabd Simon-Alexander is an expert in the world of tie-dying and her book Tie-Dye has just been published by GMC. To celebrate, Shabd is doing a rather unique ‘blog tour’, and today she joins Reloved to talk about her passion for crafting and how tie-dying can be used to great effect when upcycling. Read on to find out more…

How did you first discover tie-dye and where did you learn how to do it?
I went to a party in the community garden next to my East Village apartment and they had a picnic table laid out with stuff for tie-dyeing. I started and just didn’t want to stop! It wasn’t even the look of tie-dye that I liked, it was more about making it, it’s so much fun and so rewarding, so I spent a year playing around and developing new techniques to create dye patterns that were more grown up and modern, beyond what I had seen before.

 What are your best tips for someone trying it for the first time?
Choose your colors wisely, they are what make it truly yours and can make all the difference from a subdued, elegant piece and a bright, energetic one. And don’t be afraid – it’s virtually impossible to mess up and if you do you can just redye it!

What are your favourite ways to use tie-dye in upcycling?
Tie-dye has been used for thousands of years both by the wealthy in high-end couture garments, and by regular people as a way of giving new life to old clothing. You can dye old clothes that are boring, faded or stained and turn them into something new and exciting. And you can dye over any color; you don’t have to work only with white fabric.

What’s your favourite tie-dying technique and why?
It really depends on what I’m going for, but some of my favourite techniques are the scrunch dyeing, which gives really stunning results for how easy it is, and the itajime shibori fold and clamp technique, which has a great geometric nature that pairs so well with the organic quality of tie-dye. Itajime is always one of the favorite techniques amongst my students as well, so I now teach a class focused just on that technique.

 How can you use tie-dye to transform your home décor?
We think of tie-dye as having come to the west in the 60’s, but actually women have been using it to decorate curtains, pillows and linens in the US and UK for over a century. Bright colors can be great as accent pieces, and for larger things like curtains or blankets it can be nice to use a monochromatic palette or more subdued colors.

 What’s your favourite colour combination when dying fabric?
I love to use lots of bright colors but always like to tame them a bit with neutrals, tans and grays. I like my colors themselves to be a little off, so I mix the neutrals right into the dye to subdue them a bit, or I’ll use the neutrals alongside the brighter colors within a garment to make a more complex color palette.

Tie-dye by Shabd Simon-Alexander, published by GMC, rrp £14.99


To find out more about Shabd, here is the schedule of her ‘blog tour’…

Tuesday 10th September –
Wednesday 11th September –
Thursday 12th September –
Friday 13th September –
Monday 16th September –


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