How to get started with Natural Dyeing
In this post I will cover the main steps in the process of Natural Dyeing.
It's important to remember that each Natural Fiber/Fabric, Mordant and Natural Dye you might choose to work with will have their own specific and distinct tips, techniques and processes that work best.
Here are the main steps involved in the traditional Natural Dye process:
(1) Select natural fiber &/or fabric and weigh them while dry.
How much you will need and the exact temperament of each mordant and natural dye will vary.
(2) Scour your natural fiber &/or fabric well to ensure a good surface for the mordant and natural dye to bond with.
Scouring your dyeables is critical and acts a bit like priming-before-painting.
(3) Mordant each item you plan to dye properly so the Natural Dye has a surface to permanently grip.
This will create lasting color results that will not fade as quickly or rinse out on the first, and subsequent, washes.
NATURAL DYE PREP
(4) Natural Dye Prep will vary depending on the natural dye being used and the form it is in (e.g. thick chunks, bark chips, powder, liquid extract).
Read up on whether or not your natural dye will be assisted by a 24-48 hour pre-soak, heavy boiling, or even for some, lower temperatures throughout the cooking process.
(5) Add your (mordanted, if necessary) dyeables to the dye pot and cook.
Dye times will vary greatly depending on the dye, but will vary between 30 minutes for certain fibers, to more typically, an hour, or longer.
Most items are fine left sitting in dye for longer time after the heat is turned off. I often let items sit overnight or an extra day or more.
(6) Cure your dyed items and increase the bonding time by letting them hang or set for anywhere from a few hours to a few days (in a cool, dry location) before the final rinsing.
(7) Rinse dyed items with a pH-neutral soap or detergent.
For more information on Natural Dyes and each step of the Natural Dye process, check out "Intro to Natural Dye," ANINI Designs' 48-page eBook.
I cover everything I teach in my 4-hour in-person Intro to Natural Dye Workshops, in addition to offering eco-friendly adaptions to the process.