Indigo is typically the first port of call for those looking at using natural dyes for textiles, given that it’s the most well-known. This is also true of textile expert, Megan Mussari’s own foray into the world of natural dyes.
After working in the fashion industry and having experienced first hand the effects of synthetic dyes in mass production, Megan Mussari started her own design studio, APPRVL, to explore the use of natural dyes and a desire to make quality products by hand.
APPRVL sells a unique collection of handmade and hand-dyed goods – including rope bags, bandanas, pillows, throws, table linens, vintage goods, hand-dyed crafts and DIY indigo dye kits.
In an interview with Coyuchi, Megan Mussari explained: “It all started when I was working at a fashion brand dyeing yardage for showroom samples. I was creating these really rich colours with synthetic dyes and started to research the health risks and effects they would have on my body if I continued to use them. I learned that natural dyes were easily available and it seemed almost necessary to learn how to use them. It helps that I have an obsession with the colour blue. So APPRVL was born organically – both from curiousity and necessity.”
While learning about natural dyes, Megan Mussari discovered the ancient Japanese tradition of Shibori indigo dyeing. Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of manual resist dyeing techniques that involves shaping and securing the fabric before dyeing to create patterns.
Fabrics are bound, tied, sewn, compressed, twisted, and folded to form sections that will resist the dye and form contrasting patterns. There are infinite combinations of shaping the fabric before dyeing. Shibori fabrics are traditionally dyed with indigo, and some forms of shibori are now known in the West as tie-dye.
Each piece from APPRVL’s collection, which are modern pieces made using old traditions, honours the ancient Japanese dyeing technique. Megan Mussari, who started her brand in 2014, also now teaches the technique across Brooklyn, New York – where her studio is also based. Although the use of gloves is recommended in working with indigo, the textile artist famously does not use them.
In addition to producing the label’s own home goods, APPRVL also repurposes to give otherwise thrift store throwaways a second life. Vintage napkin sets are transformed into dinner party appropriate table accessories, and African mud cloths are also made into throws and blankets ideal for jazzing up a room.
Megan Mussari admits she has always had a more “eco-conscious mindset”, striving to use mostly recycled fabrics, or fabrics that are destined for landfill, when creating APPRVL’s home products. She has also created a range of DIY kits – which includes a denim repair kit and a learn embroidery kit – to teach the practice of mending and updating clothes to give fabrics a second life and add to their longevity to one’s wardrobe.
Image Credits: APPRVL and APPRVL’s Facebook page
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at Rosamedea.com