I'm BACK! Online shop is OPEN and ready to ship!

Making a Prereduced Indigo Vat

This is a quick reminder on how to create a prereduced indigo vat. More detail comes with the kits and full length video workshops are on the way!

Pre-Reduced Indigo "C16H10N2O2"  Pre-reduced indigo is fermented, chemically altered and air dried to form crystals that dissolve in water quickly. It still has to be chemically altered further to bond to fibers, but in this form it is easier to maintain and can last a while, but not as long as a traditional vat. Benefits to pre-reduced indigo vats are shorter dips, consistent blues, easier to start, quicker to start. No need to check pH balance, and allows you to use soda ash instead of lye. There is a shorter life to the vat, but I have had successful dips for a month if vat is properly tended to.  Jacquard brand, which I use in  my beginner shibori classes, is 60% pre-reduced indigo and freeze dried, dissolving faster, and still retaining the other unique properties of indigo. However IT IS NOT NATURAL, and don't believe people that say it is.  The chemical compound is exactly the same as real natural indigo, but it is a petroleum byproduct.


Preparing a Pre-Reduced Vat (5 gallon) The ideal container is round, made of hard plastic, glass, stainless steel, or enamel. Container should provide the most room to dye without touching the bottom while limiting surface area exposed to air.  When storing, cover to reduce contact to oxygen.

Pre-Reduced Vat Recipe 

(Always use suggested recipe from indigo source, and then alter as you see fit. Mixing should be some in a well ventilated area and if not with ventilator mask at least a clothe face covering. Children and those sensitive to chemicals or breathing issues should not be in the area when missing occurs.)

  • 20g prereduced indigo
  • 50g reducing agent (Hydro) powdery and sulfur based.
  • 100g soda ash (alkaline)
  • 4.5 gallons warm tap water in 5 gallon bucket 

*Start with recommended and alter as needed to achieve desired blues. Keep the proportions as best you can. Most dye recipes will benefit from weight measurements.

  1. Fill container with room temperature water. Storage temperature between 68-85℉.  Too cold or hot can hinder your blues, but tap water is fine to start you off.
  2. Creating a whirlpool, without touching sides or bottom using a rod or poll (spoons cause to many bubbles), add soda ash, indigo, then reducing agent carefully and with caution.
  3. Once mixed through, stop stirring to slow whirlpool by; pausing in the vat, going the outside edge with poll, then hugging the outside go the opposite direction of the whirlpool slowly.  This will grab the bubbles from the side of the bucket and swirl them to the top to create the "flower" or "bana."
  4. Let vat settle for 15-30 minutes. It will be a crisp green when ready.


Shibori Resist techniques have been in use for 1300 years and break down into a few broader categories:

  1. Hand knotting with tool
  2. Stitching
  3. Pleating
  4. Folding and Clamping
  5. Machine Aiding (starting 1970s)

“In shibori there is a right and traditional way but there rarely exists a wrong way.”

Comes from the Japanese word Shiboru: to tie, squeeze or wring out.

More details coming soon...Proper dipping technqiue and aftercare HERE.

Prereduced Indigo kit shown available here. You can also purchase the materials separately.

Natural indigo dye kit here. A different recipe is needed, which you are sent with purchase of the kit.




Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published