Monday, September 19, 2011

Fun With Eco Dying

Like a lot of folks out there, I seem to be catching the eco dyeing bug. For those of you who haven't yet heard, eco dyeing is the practice of adding pigment to your cloth through eco friendly, low impact ways, which can include wrapping and bundling various plant material into cloth and leaving it outside in the elements, (the longer the better) or steaming/boiling it, as well as using natural materials to create dyes or stains.


Natural materials for brewing dye could include teas and coffees, various garden plants, as well as spices right from your kitchen cupboard. (Just remember that many garden plants can be toxic, so even though this is eco-friendly, you should still proceed with caution and educate yourself on what you are using.) A great resource to begin this experimental process is India Flint's book Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles.


The colors and patterns on these fabrics were achieved by various means and methods, many of which I combined, including: wrapping/bundling yard material in the cloth and leaving outside in the elements, wrapping and tying cloth around sticks, dying cloth in various combinations of ingredients, including teas and kitchen spices. (Turmeric makes an awesome yellow!) Mordants, (a substance that helps to open up the fibers and set the color into the fabric) included dyeing the fabrics in aluminum pots, (set apart only to use for fabric dying), along with adding either copper pennies, vinegar, lemon juice, or salt. Different mordants can produce different results, and technically, (from what I can tell, keeping in mind that I am still woefully ignorant on this) vinegar and lemon juice are not true mordants, they are simply acidic substances that can change the dye color, and help set it.



This cloth was made by first brewing in tea. While still wet, I laid it out on a flat surface then applied dots of mud mixed with yogurt. After allowing the mud to dry, I removed the mud mixture, (very time consuming... I thought it would just soak off, but I had to soak, scrap, repeat, repeat, repeat). The final result was a subtle large polka-dot pattern surrounded by lines created as the tea soaked fabric dried. Pretty cool, huh?

Have a great week Everyone!

14 comments:

Kit said...

I love that tea/yogurt/mud combo!!! Gorgeous.

I have India's first book and have gotten mixed results - some really BRIGHT results with tumeric and beet juice, and some lovely greens with carrot tops and offcuts of lettuces of all things.

But so far, a pretty mixed bag.

Loving your results,

cheers,

Kit

Nifty Quilts said...

VERY cool! I hadn't heard of this before. Sounds like a lot of fun. And the fabrics are BEAUTIFUL!

Dosfishes at Sparkle Days Studios said...

What a cool pattern you achieved Virginia, but I can imagine trying to get the mud out, ouch. xox Corrine

Kathryn said...

That came out well! I just posted about an eco dyeing class I took on my blog. What I loved was she told us to scoop out some ocean water for a mordant, just down the road! I've just started a greener indigo dyeing class as well. Indigo dyeing with no unnatural chemicals! Have fun!

Cheryl Arkison said...

This is fun! I've only ever done immersion with beets, onion skins, etc. I've been admiring the mountain ash berries lately...

Diane J. Evans said...

WOW!! What fun, and what great results! This could be the basis of your next feature article for Quilting Arts -- talk about getting back to our roots!

And I now know a terrific use for turmeric (it's been sitting on my spice shelf because I liked the color -- the taste is another matter entirely . . .).

Diane

Sujata said...

Very cool! Loved the tea dyed polka dot fabric. Who would have thought of Yoghurt!

bloomingpoppies said...

This is great info. I've been wanting to try some natural dyes. I love that you really don't know what you'll end up with. It looks like you were pleasantly surprised!!
:-))

Kim said...

Wonderful results!

Happy Sewing

Clare Wassermann said...

very good - I have been ummming and ahhhing about that book for ages - you've ciinched it for me!

aracne said...

Ecodyeing has been on my list for a while, I hadn't the chance of taking a workshop yet, but I am definitely going to purchase India Flint's book.
What amazing results you obtained! I will think of you next time I eat yoghurt.

Lari Washburn said...

I LOVE these patterns!

Kathleen said...

Wow, that looks wonderful! I've tried turmeric before, but it washed out -- I forget what I used for a mordant (obviously not the correct one!) I have used dyes I got in a market in Peru that were supposedly from natural sources (you could still see bits of twig in the broom flower), but have never actually gathered the source material myself. That is a whole new avenue to explore... looking forward to hearing about your experiences!

Pippa said...

So cool! Your fabric turned out beautifully. I love dyeing but I have to get myself psyched up for it, and the results tend to be mixed...