Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes

Hello Lovelies,

I know it has been awhile, but I had to dye some fabrics for a project recently and I thought I would share the process and results!

This semester, I am taking a course called fashion & power, which is a critical study of fashion, its implications, and relationship to hierarchical structures in our current society and the contemporary now. For my final presentation, I decided to talk about sustainable fashion and movements towards more environmentally friendly production and shopping in slow fashion. I also naturally dyed some t-shirt scraps and brought them into class to pass around.

There are so many stores and corporations that throw out materials such as flowers, fruits and vegetables, and coffee beans once they are not fresh or deemed un-sellable. Most people probably throw out these items without a second thought, but in actuality, we can still use these materials for so many other things, like natural dyeing.

I am a big fan and user of reusable napkins, so a couple of weeks ago when I had to cut some t-shirts, I kept the sleeves for this exact purpose. Plain white t-shirt sleeves are pretty bland though and can seem semi-awkward to carry around. The one I currently carry around with me I embroidered my nickname on, but it is still just plain white. When this project came along, I thought it would be perfect to dye the scraps to add some fun and color.

Here are some great websites where I learned how to dye fabrics naturally:

There are so many ways to dye with these materials and to really get the color you want, it will take experimentation -- but have fun with it! It is a process and takes some waiting time, but I will say that it is a pretty enjoyable experience.

I did two types of dyeing styles: one with boiling directly in a broth and the other with steaming with flowers inside the cloth. Here are some photos:

If you want the color to stay through washes, you have to fix your cloth. I used the salt mixture, which is 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups water.

I had some leftover beets, so I decided to use those. I just boiled down the golden and purple beets, but mixing the two colors was probably a bad idea because I could not get a deeper color. And the broth looked more golden-orangey than purple, which was my desired color.

But hey, the cloth still turned out slightly purple in the end. It is very faint though.

Now for the flower dyeing.

You can arrange the flowers anyway you want -- I experimented with pulling the petals and using whole flowers.

And then you just roll them up with a stick and securely tie them with some rope or twine.

I tried to get some shots where you could see the steam coming out from the lid, but I thought this photo was cooler. Reminds me of the sight you are hit with when opening the door to a steaming sauna.

And this is what they look like after an hour or so !

Here are the initial results -- I really like the way the purple turned out. I was surprised that the orange left no color at all though and the yellow appeared more neon than I thought. But all in all, success.

Here's after the first wash,

And this is after they finished drying. Looking forward to gifting and using some of these reusable napkins. Hopefully you guys enjoyed this and will maybe be inspired to use some reusable napkins and or try some natural dyeing yourselves. Happy Sunday!