Indigo Dyed Tote Bag

Indigo Tote Bag with Leather handles | a happy stitchI am a natural skeptic, so I must admit I was slow to embrace the indigo dying trend.  It seemed like everyone was doing it and I pshawed. Of course, sometimes you have to (embarassingly) admit that what you first dismissed as a ‘trend’ is a hundreds of hundreds years old technique born out of pure awesome and you were being kind of a heel. Or, maybe that only happens to me. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that indigo dying is awesome! It’s a living plant, guys, and the whole process of dying with indigo is really unexpected and fun.  It’s like tie-dye (on steroids) for (artist-oriented) grown ups. If you are at all interested, don’t overthink it…definitely try it out.  I am so glad that my husband bought me a class in indigo dying at the Brooklyn Craft Company so I could get over my self and dive into it already.  I brought along a bunch of plain fabric including some canvas and basically had the time of my life.  Two of the pieces I dyed I turned into this Indigo Dyed Tote bag.

Canvas Tote Indigo Dyed | a happy stitch

Using pieces of suede leather from a thrift store leather jacket, I added simple straps. I use this tote all the time, it’s basically my new favorite.  By the way, leather is really expensive to buy but a huge men’s leather jacket from a thrift store runs for about $20 and yields a million projects worth of leather pieces.  It’s the way to go!

Indigo Tote Bag | a happy stitch

Indigo Dyed Tote | a happy stitch

The thing about Indigo dying is that you fold the fabric in different ways and don’t really know how it will turn out.  You dip into a vat of indigo and after a while it comes out neon green.  Once it oxidizes it turns the indigo blue. It’s just messy and great. I found that I enjoyed trying out lots of different folding techniques to see what I liked. For these pieces, I was initially disappointed this fabric didn’t turn out to have more blue in it but I love the way the blue at the bottom forms a good base for the tote and love how the stripes almost line up.

Indigo Bag | a happy stitch

Indigo Striped Bag | a happy stitch

I bought my own indigo-dye kit so I can play more at home, I can’t wait to use it.  I had to search around for true Indigo dye…there seem to be lots of kits claiming to use indigo but really using Rit dye. Watch out. The real thing is way more fun and science-y.  I’m so inspired by the things my friend Anna Joyce is making. I mean, her swimsuits! Wowza!

By the way, the pattern for this particular tote bag is an adaptation of my pattern, the beginner super tote. Except I didn’t line it and instead stitched french seams and I attached the straps independently to the outside. Not that you need a pattern for this, really.

2 Comments on Indigo Dyed Tote Bag

  1. Kristen gilmore powell
    June 17, 2016 at 6:51 am (2 years ago)

    Simply gorgeous!!!

    • Melissa Q.
      July 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks beautiful. We need some craft time together soon.


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