I’ve been keeping a secret…
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I’ve been dyeing lots of tiny clothes and hats lately. Well, what I didn’t share is that I was pregnant, and our little girl was born a few days ago!
In this blog post, I’ll share some of the baby clothes I’ve dyed. I didn’t know if she’d be a boy or girl, so the colours are fairly neutral. When I dye the next size of clothing, I suspect that there will be more pink (avocado dye) and more flower prints. I can’t wait!
The dyes above are from the following plants: pinky taupe - redwood cones, green - yarrow flowers, brown - black tea, purple - avocado skins then dipped in iron/rust water, grey - stinging nettles.
Painting patterns with milk
The patterns were made by painting diluted soya (soy) milk onto the fabric, then dyeing in various dye baths. The protein in the milk acts as a binding agent with the dyes, and the patterns dye much darker than the background fabric.
When you use this technique with tannin rich dyes like tea and redwood cones, then the background fabric will still dye well. The naturally occurring tannins in the dyes act as a mordant.
As you can see, the nettle dye is very pale without soya milk — see how light the background fabric is, but this makes the painted milk pattern stand out even more.
I dyed my last baby a set of vests with this technique and the colours lasted very well. One of the original vests from over 4 years ago is show below —on the far right, with unbleached/cream fabric.
Fresh leaf indigo dyeing
I also dyed a cotton hat with fresh indigo leaves (Japanese indigo / Persicaria tinctoria). I only had a tiny handful of leaves (just 5g!) and was so happy that I could use them to dye something special.
Once the fabric has been rinsed, the green oxidises and the chlorophyl washes out, and a lovely teal blue colour is left.
My favourite colour has to be green from yarrow flowers. Even after a few washes, these are still very green!
Fancy dyeing yourself something special?
All of these dyes and techniques would work beautifully on adult clothing too! So why not dye yourself something special?
My first book, Botanical Colour at your Fingertips, will help you get started with plant dyeing in the simplest way. Enjoy your projects!