The Foraged Buckthorn Marina Sweatshirt

The Foraged Buckthorn Marina Sweatshirt

Originally posted November 19, 2021

A close-up of buckthorn berries on the branch with blurred images of foragers behind it

 

One of my 2020 reads was "Fibershed" by Rebecca Burgess which got me really excited about natural dyes. I thought I could plant some seeds in the Spring and dye sweatshirts by the Fall!
 
Oof, that was optimistic! First of all, it takes plants a few years to get established, and I'd need to harvest equal weights dyestuff-to-fabric, which is a TON of flowers!
 
I started looking around for an easy source of dyes.
 
Meanwhile in Wisconsin my mom has been waging war with her local Buckthorn, an invasive plant. I discovered that buckthorn berries can be used for dye, and Mom and my sibling-in-law helped me forage them with a vindictive zeal! Musubi helped too, of course!
Triptych of a forager, a bucket full of buckthorn berries, and two large jars full of dried buckthorn berries
Fabric laid on table covered in madder root and buckthorn berries
After drying the berries, I mordanted my fabric and traced my patterns so I wouldn't waste any dye. Using a technique called Ecoprinting (rather than making a dye bath) I spread berries and madder root on my fabric and rolled it up like a croissant! Then steamed, washed, cut, and sewed!
 
The result is mottled splashes of yellow-greens, blues, and stiples of vermillion on my beloved Tencel & Organic Cotton french terry fabric. These are extremely limited edition, because that was a lot of dang work!
Fabric rolled up like a cinnamon roll with natural dye seeping through
A close-up of madder root and buckthorn berry on top of fabric
If you're interested in experimenting with natural dyes, please check out my friend Ms. Amy Taylor! She has natural dye kits, gorgeous naturally-dyed undies, and a deeply engaging blog that makes me want to delve deeper into dyes. She advised me on this project and she's deeply knowledgeable about dye, and many other things besides!

 

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