After teaching indigo dyeing in Calgary and indigo and black walnut in New Orleans, I’m back in my home studio. My recent travels have endeared many new contacts to my heart as lifelong friends and natural dye converts. As promised, I will Blog my process step by step so anyone interested can follow along. We will begin with indigo dyeing but I love colors other than blue. I’m in love with madder, my favorite dye is marigold, the warm earth brown of black walnut sooths me and I enjoy color from Black-Eyed Susans, yarrow and logwood.
Step #1: Obtain Your Fabric or Yarn::All About Fibers
The most common question I’m asked is “can I dye synthetic polyester fabric with natural dyes?” The answer is NO. The second most common question is “what kind of fabrics can I use to dye with natural dyes?”
Fibers Than You Can Dye With Natural Dyes
- Seed fibers: Cotton, coir, kapok and milkweed.
- Bast fibers: Flax (linen), ramie, hemp, jute, kenaf, bamboo,
- Leaf fibers: Pina fibers from the leaves of the pineapple plant, Sisal from the Agave plant, and Abaca from the banana tree family. As well as sedges, rushes, reeds and grasses used in making baskets.
- Animal fibers: Silk, wool, alpaca, camel, angora, cashmere and mohair.
- Man-Made fiber: Rayon made from wood pulp.
If purchasing fabric to dye from a national chain store, read the label on the end of the bolt. If no label is present, DON’T rely on accurate information from a store salesperson. You can ask for a swatch, go outside the store and burn the swatch. If it melts, it’s polyester or a high content polyester blend. If it burns, it’s a good chance it will accept natural dyes. I have tried dyeing natural fibers with a polyester blend. Depending on the weave of the fabric, you may or may not like the final outcome.