Over the past few weeks, I have spent quite some time learning all the basics of hand dyeing. I thought it was good to let you know in what kind of process you are jumping into, BEFORE you start anything, so that you have a clear idea of what you’re getting yourself into!
So there are 3 things I wish someone had told me before:
1.Prepare one day, dye the next day.
Unless you just want to stain your fabric and see the colour washing away every time you wash it! I thought you just needed to dip your fabric into the dyebath. But no! Here are the steps every kind of natural dye will require to complete the process:
- Scouring (washing to remove the grease and other impurities),
- Mordanting (prepping the fabric to receive the dye otherwise you will only stain the fabric),
- Preparing the dye bath (or coloured solution by “cooking” the plant extracts in water),
- Dyeing the fabric,
- Washing and drying the fabric.
2. Wear gloves, old clothes and work in the garage (or laundry room), if possible!
If you plan on dyeing a lot of fabric and more than just one weekend (just like me), maybe investing in a portable electric burner would be a good option. You could place it outside, in the garage or laundry room (just like I did). This way you won’t freak out every time a tiny drop of dye is spilled on your stove.
But what if your only source of heat (for simmering the fabric) is in the kitchen?
All that took me some time to learn, especially getting used to the new terminology and working in an efficient way without staining my white kitchen! So my advice would be to be prepared to stain everything. So think about your white counter top, backsplash and sink and maybe consider working somewhere else than in the kitchen.
3. If you want to use Indigo, do it outside!
The most difficult to learn was how to use natural indigo. This ancient old process is long, smells bad and very, very delicate. I was not expecting that at all! But the results are amazing and I’m looking for to becoming a pro! I’ll get back to this subject in spring and prepare a “How to” post about this process later next spring.
So don’t get discouraged because I’ve found that all of this experiment was really worth it and I had so much fun! Not to mention the pride of finding a way to produce eco-friendly fabrics and revisiting ancient old dyeing techniques.