Originally posted November 19, 2021
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!
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!
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!