handle Natural Dye Thread Cover

How to handle Natural Dye Thread & fabric

The soft color from the natural dyes is significantly different from the vivid color with chemical dyes. We enjoy the color of Natural Dye Sashiko thread, especially in a process of making “Boro” so that both fabric and thread can age – change color – together with overtime. We repeatedly tested the color stability, either if the color fades out by washing, before introducing them online. However, the Natural Dyed & Hand Dyed Sashiko thread & fabric require some attention and understanding of how to handle. The color will not be washed away by regular care for the natural dye. However, we do not recommend to throw them to the washing machine with detergent (which may have kind of “bleach” in it). Here, we introduce how to handle Natural Dye Thread and Fabric.

“Don’t” do list | Handle Natural Dye Thread with care.

First of all, please never use “Bleach” in washing and to handle Natural Dye thread. One wash with bleach may (and most likely “will”) completely wash away the natural color and make it bright white. The bleach is strong enough to do its job – to make it bright white.

The point we have to pay attention here is that some of “regular detergent” may contain the same chemical as the bleach in it. For example, if a detergent say “stain removal”, then the detergent may be too strong for the Natural Dye color.

Also, putting the Natural Dye thread and fabric in the water with detergent for a long time is not a good idea. The more time the color touches the detergent, the more color may be washed away.

Do list | How to well Handle Natural Dye Thread

Generally speaking, the natural dye doesn’t go well with the chemical detergent. In need of using the detergent, please choose the “Neutral Detergent”. Although it is quite easy to find them in Japan, I do not find the neutral detergent easily in the US (we can find them but quite expensive). In that case, please try to find the “gentle” or “soft” detergent and make sure to test the thread and fabric if the color will be washed out or not. In my experience, most of the color will stay on unless the detergent is “gentle” and washed gently. However, as a baseline, please handle Natural Dye thread with maximum Care.

Super beautiful color from nature. Although the core enjoyment of natural dye is to enjoy the color change, it is so sad to lose the color.

Summary of Do and Don’t


  • Hand-wash with no detergent. Or gentle wash with Neutral Detergent.


  • Using Bleach, or strong detergent which may contain Bleach.
  • Machine wash with long-cycle (or extra wash cycle).
  • Leave the thread or fabric in water (with detergent) for a long time.

Understand the reaction process

It is probably difficult to find a “Natural Dye” items in the mass-produced market. It is because the process of natural-dye requires a lot of attention and care. The color from nature will not stay on the thread or fabric by dipping them into a vat. It isn’t like a watercolor, putting paint on the paper.

The natural color stays on the thread and fabric by chemical reaction with a catalyst. We usually use the metal, such as iron or copper, to make the reaction happen. In another example, the Authentic Japanese Indigo Dye (Hon-Aizome), they use the oxidation process to create such a beautiful blue. The fabric and thread right after dipped in the vat looks somewhat “gray” or “brown”. In a process of oxidation (touching the air that contains oxygen), the beautiful Japanese blue comes out.

The chemical reaction doesn’t mean using chemical materials. Here, chemical reaction equals to Oxidation and Reduction. Vinegar will make the liquid more acidic and ash (such as wood ash) make the water more alkalinity. Either of acidic and alkalinity affects the balance of Natural Dye and could end up with washing out the color or changing the color.

Therefore, we strongly recommend using natural detergent, or just water.

The natural dye before the Industrial Revolution

One of the big reasons we use the Natural Dye thread is to recreate the beauty of Japan in hundreds of years ago – before the industrial revolution. Back then, in Japan, they did not have the chemical (artificial) detergent or bleach to wash the fabric. They did not have a washing machine either.

Instead, they washed the fabric and thread by hands with care (attention). I hope you would do the same when you handle Natural Dye thread and fabric.

By the way, this is my personal endnote (which may contradict what I had written so far). Anyhow, I DO wash my Sashiko Stitched Denim with the gentle detergent in a washing machine… I had washed probably more than 100 times over 1~2 years, but I can still see the thread color. The yellow from mountain peach looks more like white, but it still has yellowish color (I believe). I always wash it separately, with a gentle cycle of the washing machine, with a small amount of detergent as I feel. I sometimes do not add the detergent, but at some point, the jeans get smelly that we need some detergent… I hope you can find your own way to handle Natural Dye thread and fabric.

Shop our Natural Dye Sashiko Thread

Kakishibu Dye Black/Gray Collection 2020

SKU PD_Thread_B2020
Out of stock
Product Details

In Naturay Dye, the color "Black" is quite challenging to make it happen. For us, at least, it has been our dream of having the black color from the Nature. With a help of Kakishibu expert, we are very happy to have the Natural Dye Black thread, dyed with Kakishibu - Persimmon Tannnin.

Similar Color Restocked. Please check the Kakishibu 2020 Collection!

Kakishibu Black Shade Selection

For the Kakishibu Black Collection 2020, we have 2 shades available.

  • KB1_20_12 - Kakishibu Black/Gray Variegated - SOLD OUT. Thank you.
  • KB2_20_12 - Kakishibu Black/Gray Mono/Uneven a bit

For the color accurateness, please check my hand & the table color to get the best estimate. However, please understand that the color on the photo is just a sample. Kakishibu Dye Sashiko thread has its own one-of-a-kind color per skeins. They are all hand-dyed with natural Kakishibu juice (liquid).

[Update in Dec. 2020]

A few skeins each Restocked. Both KB_1 and KB_2 are a bit lighter in colors than the photo. Please check the photo updated on Jan.2021. To my eyes, they are dark gray/ light black. I received some feedbacks that they are gray, dark brown, or "burned" brown. Please let me know if you would like to have more photos.

About Kakishibu

Persimmon (Kakishibu) Dye requires experience and techniques to prepare the appropriate materials and stabilize the color. First of all, the Kakishibu liquid smells bad, I mean, really bad. We fortunately found a great Kakishibu Dye professionals, and thanks to their help, we achieved these 5 beautiful colors.

Persimmon Dye = Persimmon Tannin = Kakishibu

Kakishibu is a form of liquid (or sometime powdered) made from un-ripe persimmon. Get the juice from green un-ripe persimmon and ferment the liquid.

[Product Information]

  • Manufacture in Japan
  • Material : Egyptian Cotton 100%, Natural Kakishibu (Product of Gifu, Japan)
  • Length : About 145 meter per skein
  • Weight : About 28 g

*Please read the article of How to handle Natural Dye Thread and Fabric.


[Kakishibu Note - why it was so difficult]

In a process of dipping the thread into the Kakishibu Tannin liquid, the Kakishibu element make another layer of coating on the thread surface. Kakishibu Tannin itself doesn't have the beautiful color. The chemical reaction with UV light from the Sun create the many different beautiful colors. The density of liquid, the preparation of liquid & thread, and the numbers of coating will determine the color. It requires the expertise to create the similar colors.

The Kakishibu Dye Black thread have extra layer of Kakishibu coating.

Therefore, when there is a strong friction between thread and fabric, the part of the coating "may" leave some of the Kakishibu element on the fabric. It is not significant when we stitch on the darker fabric. We will not notice the color transfer when we stitch on the white fabric. However, when we stitch on the white fabric, then decide to take the tread out of the fabric, the black dots may be left behind on the fabric. The black dots may be observed even without the stitches. In other words, when we stitch on the white fabric, we have to be careful to not to "re-do" Sashiko.

We have been trying to resolve this possible issue. However, with considering the characteristic of Kakishibu, this may not be resolved that easily. I want all the customers to understand this as the Sashiko stitcher to avoid "re-doing" Sashiko on the white fabric.

Also, please understand that Kakishibu will have a chemical reaction in alkalinity. Please avoid the detergent which has the alkalinity elements.

Since the outcome of Kakishibu Dye greatly varies from the sunlight, it is very difficult to have the exact same color. We keep eye on the inventory, but there is a possibility of being in short. In those cases, we may ask you to agree to receive the most similar color to your order. Since every threads are dyed by hands with natural dyes, the colors may be a bit different from the photos depends on the screen you are looking at. The difference in variegated colors may be less significant because of the "variegated" character. If you have the specific colors you would like to have in your mind, please contact Atsushi first. We will do everything to match your preference. Thank you for your understanding.

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