Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Natural Dyeing

I bought several yards of Annie's Farm Stand Seed Catalogue in white on white to use for natural dyeing. I cut one yard into fat quarters and used another yard of white connecting threads solid. Using the instructions in Wild Color, I scoured both fabrics, premordanted with staghorn sumac berries/bark, and mordanted with alum. I don't think I stirred enough during the mordanting process, because some of my solids came out splotchy.

For the dyes, I used apple bark from Spicy's farm, cochineal, and coffee. I soaked the apple bark for a week, but the book didn't tell me to occasionally heat the chips to prevent mold growth (i found that tip out later). when i simmered the chips it made my house smell HORRENDOUS--like something had died in the kitchen. fortunately with enough ventilation the smell didn't last that long.

For the cochineal, i'm pretty squeamish about bugs so i ground them into a powder with a mortar and pestle before using them. i only had about 2 tablespoons of ground powder but the dyebath was so bright i could've dyed everything in my house and still not exhausted the bath. After I finished with my fabrics, i couldn't waste that much dye, so i threw in some unmordanted spinning fiber that is drying now. Hopefully I will have those results soon. Eventually i threw out the remaining dyebath even though i could've kept going. I need to save up some storage containers so I can be more prepared in the future. and next time i'll definitely use less cochineal.

I'm happy with with the color I got from the coffee. Coffee isn't one of the dyes in the book and serious dyers don't seem to use it. Since my cloth is mordanted I'm curious to see how long the color lasts. I collected grounds from our normal coffee consumption for only 3-4 days, so if the color does stay true i'll have easy access to a constant supply.

I am giving serious thought to building a dye studio in my basement. I really love natural dyeing and have a lot more dyestuff to try. I'm hoping to collect enough FQs to make a baby quilt. If I can just get over the smells...

Natural DyeingNatural Dyeing


  1. Awesome! Your fabrics turned out lovely, and I enjoyed reading about your latest adventure! I've only dyed anything once (with kool-aid), but I am taking Malka Dubrawsky's class at quiltcon, so hopefully, that will change.

  2. these are gorgeous results! i was going to say i particularly love the green, but i love all your colors.

  3. These look great. I really love the colors together!

  4. ! These are stunning!! I clicked through a flickr group image hoping to find the names of these shades so I could order them myself!

  5. i love these colors. i find myself drawn to pinks and purples so much more lately!



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