Tie and dye, an ancestral technique for dyeing fabrics
With the Ayo collection, I chose to honor the tie and dye. It can be found in many Kalyca pieces: robes, jupes, shortschemisestee-shirts et combinaisons. Derrière ces motifs colorés que tout le monde connait se cache un vrai-savoir faire artisanal que je vous invite à découvrir.

Tie and dye

Tie-dye is a very old technique of coloring fabrics known as "saving dye" or "reserve dye". The principle is to tie the fabric with ligatures made with cotton thread, then to soak it in dye baths. Thus, some parts of the fabric are in contact with the dye, while others are preserved.

A multicultural know-how

Tie and dye is used in West Africa, but other similar techniques are used in various parts of the world.

Indonesian batik, from the island of Java, replaces knotting by applying hot wax on the parts of the fabric that we want to spare from dyeing.

Ikat is a process that is also found in Indonesia, as well as in Japan and America, consists of dyeing the fabric before making the weaving.

The Japanese also know the shibori and its six variants allowing to obtain very diverse results, as well as the echigo-joju, a technique for making ramie paper in the Uonuma region.

To finish this world tour, let's finally mention the adire alabere, a nigerian technique giving indigo blue fabrics with geometric patterns.

More recently, the hippie culture has appropriated the tie and dye in the 1970s in the United States with spiral patterns very colorful. A very psychedelic style!

The nouag

In Africa, the knotting of fabrics is traditionally done by men. This step determines the patterns that will be formed during the dye bath. In addition to knotting, other processes are used to obtain a multitude of designs: rolling, folding, sewing, twisting or pressing.

Tie-dye fabrics
Tied fabrics ready to be dyed.


Once the fabrics are tied, the dyers take over and plunge them into basins containing the dye mixed with very hot water. The duration of the bath will determine the intensity of the coloring. At the end of the bath, the fabrics are rinsed with clear water to remove the excess dye. Finally, the ligatures are cut, and it is then that the craftsmen discover the result of their work. I love to witness this magical moment when I see these shades of color unfold before my eyes to dress my customers. All that remains is to lay the fabrics out and let them dry in the open air.

Tie-dye dyeing
Fabrics coming out of the dyeing baths.

The protective gloves worn by the dyers are not meant to protect them from any toxic product, but simply to protect them from the bath's heat and avoid that they end the day with multicolored hands! In fact, the dyes are vegetable and natural, no chemical products are used, in accordance with Kalyca's commitment to eco-responsible production. The dyers make the mixtures themselves from avocado pits, tree bark, onions, etc. The indigo pigment comes from the north of the Ivory Coast.

Handmade : how I work with artisans

Like all handmade techniques, the finished product is never exactly the same. The patterns depend on the knotting, they are never completely identical. As for the colors, the dyers are often unable to reproduce the same shades twice, because they prepare the dye baths by trial and error. I give them a lot of freedom on the shades. And I am never disappointed! They are true artists, and they know how to combine colors to obtain harmonious results. The counterpart of this artisanal work is that once the fabric is finished, I can't relaunch the production of a model. Each Kalyca tie and dye garment is therefore made in very few copies and each piece is unique... and will remain so!

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comments (3)

    • Emilia
    • 2020-10-28 23:01:02
    Bravo pour ce travail. C'est avec fierté que je porte ma chemise tie and dye. La teinture est de très bonne qualité, je l'ai lavé de nombreuses fois et les couleurs n'ont pas bougé.
    • Mylroa
    • 2021-10-06 11:02:39
    Encore un exemple de savoir-faire ancestral qui se retrouve dans civilisations, sur plusieurs continents. Comment expliquer ça si ce n'est que par une origine commune ?
    • Mimilombie
    • 2021-12-13 09:28:55
    Ce que j'aime avec le tie dye, c'est qu'on ne sait jamais à l'avance tout à fait le motif qu'on va obtenir, ni la couleur exacte d'ailleurs (à moins d'avoir l'habitude). On peut faire à la maison grace à des kit DIY. C'est une activité ludique que je vais proposer à ma fille.

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