What can a crafty girl do with leftover strawberries (goodbye, sweetness!), plum skins, and onion peels? Make organic fabric dye, of course!
I’ve created this colorful natural fabric dye chart with the dye source on the left and the corresponding fabric color on the right (the yellow powder is turmeric and the purple flower is lavender):
And, now the magical process:
- Pre-wash and pre-soak your fabric. It is best to use 100% natural fabrics that are undyed. I have recently fallen in love with China silk habotai because it’s elegant and billowy without the price pitfall of crepe de chine.
- Chop up your food source into little tiny bits (but not so tiny that they can’t be strained out). For onions and plums, use only the skins
- Prepare the water base in a large pot: add the water in a 2:1 ratio of water to food source (so if you have 2 cups of chopped bits, add 4 cups of water)
- Boil the mixture for approximately an hour
- Strain out food source and return liquid dye to pot
- Add salt or vinegar, depending on the food source, to the water and mix. For fruits and vegetables, add 1/2 cup of salt to every 8 cups of water. For plant material, add 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water). Salt and vinegar act as fixatives for the dye.
- Add your pre-soaked fabric to the dye, stirring thoroughly, and bring up to a boil
- Depending on how dark you would like the dyed fabric to be, boil your fabric in the dye for any length of time up to about an hour and a half. At that point, your dye is probably exhausted.
- Hand wash your fabric in cold water and organic detergent at least twice to ensure that all of the dye and fixative are out of the fabric, rinse, and hang dry or lay flat.
Voila! You now have gorgeous, naturally dyed fabric to sew into sensational garments.
**if you would like a lighter color, either add less fixative (vinegar or salt) or boil for less time – or a little of both! You can also add some salt/vinegar to the pre-soak water, but I haven’t really seen a difference with doing so.
The grande finale (and my absolute favorite part)…EYE CANDY! Dianne Koppisch Hricko is a textile artist based out of Philadelphia (my hometown!), and is known for her absolutely stunning hand-dyed silks. Here are some inspirational pieces that I’m crazy for:
Jenny of Wiksten also has some lah-lah-lovely hand dyed pieces that are so bright they’re breathtaking:
Stay tuned for my sweet (and sometimes sour) experiments on organically dyeing china silk habotai.
toujours. always. xo.