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BobW
01-09-2009, 11:20 AM
Hi all,

I recently purchased a used indigo-dyed (well, it's blue anyway) cotton hakama. It has an e-bogu label.

Anyway, I don't know how long the previous owner had it, or whether he ever washed it (he certainly didn't fold it) but the blue was coming off on my hands just from holding it, so I chucked it in the wash. After about 5 washes it was still leaving a blue mark if I rubbed it on my hand, so I decided to soak it overnight. After all that, I still woke up to a bath tub full of dark blue water, so now it's back in the wash.

So far I've washed it a couple of times with soap, and soaked it for 8 hours in plain, cool water. I've read about soaking them in vinegar but I didn't have any so I may try that next, but the plan is to use this hakama on real tatami, and I can't risk leaving stains.

Never having owned indigo or cotton hakama before, can anyone give me some advice?

Ron Tisdale
01-09-2009, 12:05 PM
Follow the links on this post:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9011&postcount=2
Best,
Ron

Voitokas
01-09-2009, 12:07 PM
Even having washed it until the water is clear, it will smudge tatami blue for a few months. I'd try to wear it on plastic tatami for fifty or so training sessions before I wore it on real tatami, just to wear any loose indigo off the knees and hips... sorry not to have better advice!

BobW
01-09-2009, 12:10 PM
Thanks Ron, but I don't see anything in any of those links that describes how to prevent or stop the bleeding.

Also, I should let you know that I'm not wearing this hakama for martial arts, but for tea. I bought it to wear at practice instead of my formal hakama. For tea obviously the majority of the time you're sitting on or sliding around the tatami on your knees, so I'm not going to be able to wear it if there's any chance of leaving blue streaks on my teacher's tea room floor.

Ron Tisdale
01-09-2009, 12:11 PM
Wash it. A lot...Follow the link to Carol's article, and it explains why.

:D

mikegeorge
01-09-2009, 11:34 PM
You might try soaking in a vinegar and water solution (not sure of the ratio). The vinegar will help set the color.

Voitokas
01-09-2009, 11:35 PM
I think it might be better to buy another practise hakama in polyester than to risk smurfing your sensei's tatami...

BobW
01-10-2009, 01:10 AM
I think it might be better to buy another practise hakama in polyester than to risk smurfing your sensei's tatami...

...or just not wear hakama, I guess.

Well, here's the update. After about 10 washings and an overnight soaking, I was still getting blue streaks off the hakama when wet, but unfortunately all those washings without using one of those bags have worn away the corners of the koshi-ita. It's not too obvious (a bit of dark blue paint will cover it), but I'm glad I made that mistake on a cheap used hakama... Anyway, it's currently hanging to dry and we'll see what happens when it's done. Maybe the dye won't come off when it isn't wet.

Amazingly, it's really maintained its pleats through all this, and they'll be incredibly easy to iron. What a difference from my other hakama, which loses its pleats if you look at it funny.

Carol Shifflett
01-10-2009, 12:46 PM
Well, here's the update. After about 10 washings and an overnight soaking, I was still getting blue streaks off the hakama when wet . . . Amazingly, it's really maintained its pleats through all this, and they'll be incredibly easy to iron. What a difference from my other hakama, which loses its pleats if you look at it funny.

What you're experiencing is called "crocking," insoluble grains of indigo are flaking out of your garment. Why so severe? Your update holds the "Aha!" piece of the puzzle.

You do not have a pure cotton hakama because pure cotton does NOT hold pleats. Wrinkles, yes. Pleats no. Permanent press pleats require a synthetic like polyester (which you can permanently pleat at home) or a resin finish (applied in manufacturing).

Either option has even less hope of holding onto indigo than does cotton. You can test your fabric by burning a few threads. Cotton should ash like a candle-wick. Anything that looks like hard melted plastic means there's something else in there.

I would give up that hakama as a bad job. If it isn't returnable after all the washing, then I would throw it in the washer with a box of RIT color remover and see what's under the blue chalk. I don't think RIT will take the color out of dyed polyester; it should only remove the indigo. But I'm not sure -- test first on a scrap or inside seam.

And never again waste your money on modern indigo-dyed hakama (unless, perhaps, it's from Mali where they still do indigo dyeing the old-fashioned way!)

Cheers!
Carol

BobW
01-10-2009, 02:51 PM
Meh, for $10 I'm not that concerned. But the hakama does have a label that states it's 100% cotton, and I'm reasonably sure that's what it is, although possibly it has some kind of coating. The pleats aren't permapress, by the way, but as I said, they held remarkably well.

Anyway, I've ironed and folded it and put it away for now. They may come in useful some day, but all things considered I think I'm better off going with polyester (on the cheaper side) or silk (on the super expensive side) in future.

Erick Mead
01-10-2009, 05:28 PM
If you are adventurous -- you can try dyeing your own.

http://www.aurorasilk.com/info/indigo_tutorial.shtml

Carol Shifflett
01-11-2009, 07:56 AM
Meh, for $10 I'm not that concerned. But the hakama does have a label that states it's 100% cotton, and I'm reasonably sure that's what it is, although possibly it has some kind of coating. The pleats aren't permapress, by the way, but as I said, they held remarkably well.

A coating is an excellent possibility. The fabric may have started out as 100% cotton, but "pure" cotton it ain't, otherwise those pleats would NOT have remained through all this.

Meanwhile, in response to the desperate person who contacted me offline per "How do I make permanent press hakama pleats at home???" with offer of firstborn son . . . (Unnecessary! Really!!:) )

If your hak is cotton/polyester blend (10% or more poly is best) lay out your pleats exactly as you want them (this is permanent!) And do a test spot before you start.
-- Steam press pleats smooth and flat.
-- Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a cup of water.
-- Wet the pleat edges with sponge and vinegar solution (I suggest you do each one individually) and steam press dry.

This treatment will NOT work on a cotton hakama. For cotton or hemp, you'll have to return to tradition--stitching your backpleats. Until very recently Japanese fabrics were never more than 13"-14" wide, the width of a hand loom. Thus a hakama was made of multiple panels, the seams between them hidden in the back pleats. And fronts might be stabilized with rice paste.
You can emulate this by topstitching the inside (valley) pleats. Use a narrow zig-zag stitch (a straight stitch will pucker). Just the back half of the pleats "permanentized" will make folding enormously easier. I suspect it might be possible to line the backs of the outside pleats (mountain pleats) with lightweight iron-on polyester stabilizer with the vinegar and steam treatment, but I've never tried it.

Cheers!
Carol

Howard Popkin
01-13-2009, 04:57 AM
It will never stop, its the Terminator of dyes. I bought one in Japan. Ruined my tatami, countless Gi tops, and a Maytag Dryer which I had to scrub with steel wool and bleach to get the blue out.

Buying a polyester one was the best advice I have heard. The Blue ones are really made for Kendo - They wear gloves, their entire uniform is blue and the floor is wood. No problems.

Best of luck !

Howard

Ethan Weisgard
01-14-2009, 04:01 PM
I have had many Iwata indigo cotton hakama, and yes, they have bled like crazy, but after a whole lotta washing, they have behaved themselves quite well. And I do mean a whole lotta washing! Is it because people have used other brands? Or has Iwata been adding more color to the hakama?

Some of my students have bought Iwata hakama recently and they are in the process of the 1000 washes (well, not quite but still..). I am interested to see if they will prevail in getting all the excess coloring out. And the tatami has been smurfed, but they were able to wash it off with some liquid cleanser and a lot of elbow grease. We use the vinyl coated sports tatami in our dojo, so it wasn't too hard to wash off.

I heard at one point that Hombu Dojo had forbidden the use of indigo hakama due to the smurfing of their traditional surfaced tatami. But recently I saw several Japanese sempai wearing them. The mats seemed ok.
I have been using a polyester blue hakama for the past few years, more because it folds nicely and is easy to travel with. I love the indigo hakama - especially when they start to fade a bit.

In aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

Voitokas
01-15-2009, 01:22 AM
Mine is from Tozando - I soaked it overnight and only washed it about ten or so times. There was a little smurfing for a week or so after that, but I cleaned it up with kohai :D

Richard Sanchez
01-15-2009, 08:24 AM
I bought mine at a Tokyo MA store 11 years ago, (can't remember the store name) but I remember the price UD$200:eek: . The guy who sold it to me said to soak it in heavily salted water for a day and then after that only rinse in water. Which I did and have.

I've had no problems with the color bleeding but the creases fell out after the salt soak and never returned. Its my favorite by a long shot but compared to the sharply creased polyester crowd I look like a ragbag.

Cady Goldfield
01-15-2009, 08:40 PM
It will never stop, its the Terminator of dyes. I bought one in Japan. Ruined my tatami, countless Gi tops, and a Maytag Dryer which I had to scrub with steel wool and bleach to get the blue out.

Buying a polyester one was the best advice I have heard. The Blue ones are really made for Kendo - They wear gloves, their entire uniform is blue and the floor is wood. No problems.

Best of luck !

Howard

You didn't address the issue of underwear and skin in contact with said hakama. Streams of indigo-blue water used to go down the drain when I'd shower after class. :o

I have to admit that I always hated wearing a hakama, but I do have a sentimental attachment to, and miss, my old indigo-blue cotton one (it went missing a couple of years ago :( ) despite its constant "smurfing" of me and mine that went unabated for 6 or 7 years even after several washings.

Carol's vinegar suggestion reminds me of an old dye-fixing formula that works on most colors: the amount of vinegar she mentioned, plus the addition of a half teaspoon of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. I used to use that when I did tie-dying back in the 19(mumbles...mumbles)s.

Fred Little
01-15-2009, 10:09 PM
The traditional indigo-dyeing process (http://books.google.com/books?id=CXpMAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA195&lpg=PA195&dq=urine+indigo+fixer&source=bl&ots=byJ_aaK9rQ&sig=HM3qWgrwoQohlQKOEFbrm6-eX6I&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA195,M1) is more efficacious, but the reasons by which it has fallen out of favor are clear as well.

Go to the lower right hand column on page 195 and read on.

Best,

FL

Cady Goldfield
01-16-2009, 07:51 PM
The traditional indigo-dyeing process (http://books.google.com/books?id=CXpMAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA195&lpg=PA195&dq=urine+indigo+fixer&source=bl&ots=byJ_aaK9rQ&sig=HM3qWgrwoQohlQKOEFbrm6-eX6I&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA195,M1) is more efficacious, but the reasons by which it has fallen out of favor are clear as well.

Go to the lower right hand column on page 195 and read on.

Best,

FL

"I'm sorry that you are not happy with urindigo-dyed hakama, sir." :D

I wonder whether the use of vinegar, etc. was the result of desperate alchemy to find a substitute for the original "active ingredient" in indigo dye-fixing? Though I can't think of a better excuse to give one's spouse for downing a six-pack every day before going to work.

"But honey, I'm just stocking up on dye-fixer!"

Carol Shifflett
01-17-2009, 03:56 AM
You didn't address the issue of underwear and skin in contact with said hakama. Streams of indigo-blue water used to go down the drain when I'd shower after class. :o

And that, folks, is the origin of the Blue Men of Mali/Sahara (and the inspiration for the desert dwellers of Frank Herbert's "Dune").

Carol's vinegar suggestion reminds me of an old dye-fixing formula that works on most colors: the amount of vinegar she mentioned, plus the addition of a half teaspoon of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. I used to use that when I did tie-dying back in the 19(mumbles...mumbles)s.

Whoa! To clarify, my vinegar comment was not per fixing indigo dye -- it was per fixing polyester pleats. As far as I can tell (and judging from many anguished smurf postings) the vinegar soak to somehow "fix" indigo just doesn't work. It might have been a treatment for the fabric itself, much like back in the 19(mumble. . . mumble) before the days of newfangled pH-balanced shampoos, we used to final rinse hair with a weak solution of vinegar (for brunettes) or .lemon juice (for blondes) to neutralize the alkalinity of the soap (Prell! Yowza!). In none of these cases did the acid have anything to do with the color.

Cheers!
Carol

Cady Goldfield
01-17-2009, 05:27 PM
Hey Carol,
You're likely right that the vinegar's role is more of a fabric conditioner. But, the salt and cream of tartar definitely were required in the recipe as fixatives for the dye itself.

Prell! I remember using it after gym class. No matter how much I rinsed, it still left my hair standing on end. :D

Cady Goldfield
01-18-2009, 05:30 PM
As an addendum to the above ---

Dye-fixing won't really work on a heavily-dyed item until it's been washed at least a couple of times, in my experience. Items such as these cotton indigo-dyed hakama tend to be so saturated with dye that they dry with a lot of residue on them. You have to remove some of it first through washing, then you can apply the dye-fixitive process. And hope for the best. ;)

Cady Goldfield
08-25-2009, 04:29 PM
I am revisiting this old thread because I was going through a borrowed book on plant-dyeing last night and found this information on fixing plant dyes. While the book discusses wool, the process should work for cotton, linen and natural blends. Wool is naturally absorbant, though, and may be more so than the plant fibers. But for fixing indigo in an already dyed hakama, it might just work well. Caveat dye-or. ;)

This method involves using alum (potassium aluminum sulfate -- potash) with cream of tartar (potassium acid tartare). For each pound of wool or fabric, use 1 oz. cream of tartar, 3-4 oz. alum and 4 gallons of water, which must be soft or distilled -- not hard water (the minerals in hard water will affect the mix).

You dissolve the cream of tartar and alum in the water, heat and stir. Wet the fabric thoroughly in warm water and squeeze out the excess. Then place the wool in the simmering brew, bringing up the heat to a slow boil. Then reduce the heat and let the batch simmer for an hour, adding water as needed to keep it from boiling off. Let it stand and cool, then squeeze it dry (you can roll it in old towels).

If the fabric feels tacky, you can rinse it.

There was another method, used by colonial Americans, which used a solution of rusty nails and vinegar, but the alum and cream of tartar is probably a better way. ;)