a) Getting started with natural dyes: I’ve never used natural dyes before. What do I do?
Prepare your fibre for dyeing
It is easiest to start with wool. Leave cotton for later, as it is a little more complicated.
Begin with something that weighs about 100 gm, like a hank of wool. Heavier items such as a jumper may require an impracticably large saucepan. Start small.
You need to make sure your wool is very clean and you need to scour it, which is more than just washing. Please read the safety guidelines before you start.
Scouring removes grease & oil from the fibre
Dye your fibre
Natural dye extractsare easier to dye than leaves, wood chips, roots and flowers, when you are starting. You just need to dissolve the extract in warm water, then add the mordanted wool and simmer gently for a while.
Rinse and dry the wool and you are then ready to use it.
Ourhand loomsare ideal for using your batches of dyed wool
A mordant binds the dye to the fibre
You might like to start with the cochineal kit - buy everything you need in one box.
Woad and indigo need a different process and thewoad kitis a good way to get started with blue colours.
b) Dyeing a cotton T-shirt: I want to dye a cotton T-shirt, but I have never used natural dyes before. What do I need?
First you need make sure your T-shirt is very clean. You will need to scour it, which is much more than just washing, and you need soda ash for that. Please read the safety guidelines before you proceed.
You might like to have several T-shirts already scoured, as 10 gm of indigo can dye up to 800 gm of fabric (one T-shirt weighs 150 to 200 gm on average). Scour one T-shirt at the time. If you don’t want that many T-shirts, you might like to dye some white cotton fabric to use in patchwork.