Natural fabric dyeing with flowers and plants, creating something beautiful and unique by giving flowers a second life. Ideas like this, that are born over coffee and granola bowls with my lovely and inspiring friend Alba. And ideas that are born today need to be tried and tested tomorrow. This is how it goes with many ideas. Almost too many 🙂
Giving Flowers a 2nd Life
The idea is using plants and flowers from the own back yard or terrace. As the flower season on my terrace is long past I approached the biggest flower shop in Barcelona asking for flowers that are wasted. It is a pity anyway to use the most beautiful blooms for experiments like this. Once more I realised that if you friendly ask for something, you might get it. Too often we just don’t dare to ask. In this case a got a huuuuuge [ like almost to huge to carry ] tray with flowers and eucalyptus – for free! Have of the eucalyptus I put in a big vase that is now adding some green to our living room. Just like this flower shop I guess that any other shop has flowers which can’t be sold anymore. Obviously this is a way to save flowers from being wasted and more than this: Natural dyeing gives them a 2nd life that lasts much longer. Check this link to learn which plant material is suitable for dyeing as well as which colour you can use it for.
Creating Something Unique
Natural dyeing means creating something unique with the power of plants and flowers. And this process as well as the results are just as wonderful as they sound! Today, most fabrics and fibers are dyed with synthetic dyes that create reliable and easy to repeat results. However, the joy of creating your own dyes are the happy mistakes and surprises that make the result beautiful and unique. To enhance effects happened by combining plant material you can use a mordant. Mordants are substances used to permanently bond dyes on fabrics or create a chemical reaction to create new colors. Mordants include alum, sodium chloride [ normal table salt ] and metal salts like iron, copper and tin. So far I haven’t experimented with mordants, but this will be the next step.
Natural Fabric Dyeing Steps & Material
Collect leaves and flowers from your garden, terrace or ask the flower shop around the corner for flowers that would be wasted. Before getting started you need to prepare your fabric with a fixative for dyeing. Note that silk, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes. According what I researched this can be done by simmering the fabric in 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Honestly this doesn’t really help a lot as colours are washed out too easily and look pale. If you want the colours to look brighter I learned you need to use aluminium as a fixative. I’ll definitely try this next. I guess it’s all about practicing…. just like with everything else! Other than that, these are the main steps you follow for natural dyeing:
- Wash your fabric to remove any commercial finishing.
- Simmer in aluminium water bath for 1 hour.
- Sprinkle flowers and leaves all over the wet fabric, fold and bind it to secure the bundle.
- Set the fabric on a steamer rack in a pot of water and let it steam for about an hour. Add water from time to time.
- After an hour, turn off the heat and allow the bundle to cool. Once cooled, unroll the bundles, remove the plant material and rinse in cool water.
Natural dyeing is just too much fun! As soon as I will be fully happy with the result I would like to make a top out of it. My personal role model in this field is Cara Marie Piazza – her work is just amazing! Get inspired by checking out my Pinterest board on this topic or researching for more material with the keywords natural dyeing, eco dyeing.If you have any experience in this field, please share! I would happy to know what worked out best for you!