There are thousands of natural materials that make glorious colors in fabric, from rhubarb and dahlias to indigo and groundnuts. Natural dyeing is an ancient tradition, and the techniques behind this art hardly vary across the world (even if styles of textiles may be regional). It’s likely that natural dyeing was informed by cooking, as the process of extracting pigment is exactly like boiling food.
The general process is this: Choose what you would like to dye and dyes, prepare it for dyeing (also known as scour and mordant), then dye and wash. Some of these words might not mean anything at this point (scour and mordant!?), but by the end of this post, you’ll be able to throw them around with ease. You’ll know more about natural dyeing than most people and have resources at your hands should you want to try it.
One of the things to focus on when working with natural dyes is colorfastness, or the quality of keeping the same color, even if washed or placed in the light. Throughout every step of the dyeing process — from sel... Read more