Friday, February 19, 2016

The Natural Conundrum

This challenge presents me with a conundrum.  I don’t dye fabric.  I don’t like messing about with wet processes – yuk! - I haven’t got the facilities, or made the space, to do any dyeing.

However I investigated.  I bought books, read them (!), considered the processes, researched how I could get strong colour with natural dyes.  I discovered mordants and fixatives can be more toxic than procyon dyes. I found that if one wants to get really strong colour, the number of stages mounts up, without guarantee of final success (at least for beginners…)  The book cover below is rather misleading!

I am quite keen on improving our environment, but going around collecting the plants etc that are needed for natural dyeing doesn’t really appeal.  The most ‘natural’ dyeing I have done in the past is to submerge white fabric in strong tea to make it ‘skin tone’, when I used to make dolls.

Rust is a process that I find rather overdone already, and the colour does not appeal to me. I am not a 'beige' person – and most ‘easy’ natural dyes – such as tea, coffee, onion skins – only produce shades of beige and brown. And I need strong colour! Wild colour! I wouldn't know what to do with beige tones...

So eventually I pursued other lines of enquiry and found a solution.

You’ll have to wait till the 27th to find out what it is!


  1. A lot of what people do with the *eco* fad is simply staining the fabric.
    As you discovered, true dyeing involving mordants is quite complicated and can be toxic as well.
    I feel bad for the people who's work will fade to beige sludge in a few years due to mistaken assumptions about the processes involved.

  2. Can't wait to see the result Alicia, I am intrigued.

  3. Betty, you are right on the spot - I discovered that when reading the books about natural dyeing. It is a fascinating process but to do it properly it is very complex and also the mordants are often toxic. Staining with tea or whatever won't last. And Sue - not long to wait to find out what I did - this time I finished the quilt with three days to spare!