Fabricademy Week 4: Bio dyes in detail

Posted in Textiles

Plant Dyes > Main post details here about the Fabricademy project assignment

Part 1 – Making plant dyes

Part 2 – Home natural dye experiments – preparation

Part 3 – Home natural dye experiments – Results

Part 4 – Plant dyed yarns into products > Post details here

Part 1 – Making plant dyes

One of my loves is being surrounded by nature, so I wanted to use the plant resources I had close to me.  In London, I would have had many more options from the garden , but here in Barcelona we have a terrace and a few Mediterranean plants growing. I chose rosemary, sage and aparagi *tbc*.

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Part 2 – Home natural dye experiments – preparation

I was really interested to see what the variations between the different Mordants and modifiers were.

As an avid embroiderer, I decided to pick a 100% cotton yarn that I could separate into several hanks and make lots of tests with simultaneously. At the same Merceria (Haberdashery), I also found a cotton lace and thought it would be nice to test a pre-made piece of trim. I was inspired by the blog (X)

Here are my pre-planning stages:

  1. Buy 100% cotton yarn 100g & 1meter of lace
  2. Split yarn into 6 balls of 15g, 90g total
    • A leftover of 10g white cotton
  3. Create 6 hanks and split into 3 sets, 2 hanks in each
    • Also divide the lace into 6 pieces and distribute the same way
    • 2 hanks in each set would mean I could test two different dyes simultaneously.
    • Each set of 2 represents a different mordant:
      • Alum
      • Iron Liquor (made by Mo)
      • Vinegar (though it was stated in the lecture this was used only as a modifier, I found many blogs which stated it could potentially be used as natural mordant like salt is for berries. I actually followed this up with posting on a Facebook group which Prints with natural sources and have had some great responses.)
  4. See the gallery below for an easy way to wind a hank of yarn.
    • The reason you separate the threads like this is so they don’t tangle during the dyeing process.
    • * Note* I chose acrylic yarn to do this
    • I also colour coded the yarns using small pieces of different colour threads:
      • Pink & aqua = Alum
      • Pink & blue = Iron Liquor
      • Just pink = vinegar

Next steps

  1. Choose dyes/ plants/ pigments
    • Sage – enough leaves to fill a 450ml jar. I picked the sage from a planter on my terrace
    • Pimenton or Hot pepper powder – 20g or half a standard jar.
      • I was hoping this would work like the Turmeric powder in our group tests (bright yellow colour), but as you will see, it gave a light colour.
  2. Create a recipe and plan for the dyeing stage. See my PDF here
  3. Get dyeing!

Please see image gallery below of my pre stages and link to the Tutorial video & stages.

Part 3 – Home natural dye experiments – Results

Here is how my yarns finally turned out.

Link to PDF list of internet Natural Dyeing Sources)

Part 4 – Plant dyed yarns into products > Post details here

Click above to see how my yarns finally turned out… and what I made with them!

Future ideas to do with Natural Dyeing and Bioplastics

  • I would like to experiment further with the mordants, especially copper which I did not yet try and it gives a bluer shade to some dyes.
  • Also the iron mordant i’d like to re-try with a stronger solution
  • I do want do some dip-dyeing and look at pattern results  for knitting and weaving.
  • Create some naturally dyed bio plastics:
    • Draw with it onto other bioplastic sheets, create patterns etc
    • Use it on biodegradeable fabrics like cotton
    • Use it as a connector between other fabrics, like a seam or sealing, especially when the bio-plastic is flexible


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