Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Tie-dye Pillowcases with Children

You may have seen our post Tie-dyed Onesies using Jacquard Procion MX dyes in which professional nannies Cara and Kim did some fun tie-dyeing with the children they look after.

This post shows what the children made with the left over dyes!

Tie-dyed Pillowcases

The white pillowcase were first prepared for dyeing and then soaked in a solution of 20g soda ash per litre of water (allowing approximately 2 litres of water for every 100g of dry fabric). The soda ash solution is what helps to bond the dye to the fabric making the colours permanent and wash fast.


The bottles were filled with 150ml of hot tap water and 2-4 teaspoons of Jacquard Procion MX dye powder were added before shaking the solution to disperse the dye. This type of dye is for use on cellulose fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon.

Tying the Fabric

The tied off areas of the fabric will absorb little or no dye and this will create the patterning on the fabric. You can use string by wrapping it tightly around the fabric before knotting it, or elastic bands pulled as tightly as they will stretch without breaking.

Applying the Dye

It is a good idea to protect all work surfaces and wear disposable gloves when working with the dyes. With help from the adults, the children applied the dye using the squeezy bottles. The children had a lot of lovely colours to choose from, although 2-3 colours can be equally effective.

Here are the tie-dyed pillowcases laid out to dry.



And here are the finished pillowcases!



Tie-dyeing Alternative Technique

Another method of tie-dyeing fabric involves the tied item being fully submerged is a bucket of dye solution. It is then allowed to dry before unwrapping the tied parcel. The fabric is then tied again (but in different places) and submerged in a different dye colour. This process is very effective if you only have two dye colours such as turquoise and yellow. The parts of the fabric that were protected by the ties will remain either turquoise or yellow. The parts of the fabric that were dyed with both colours will be green.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Natural Dyeing Display at the Weald & Downland Living Museum

A visit to the Weald & Downland Living Museum takes us on a journey through 950 years of English rural history.

There are 50 historical buildings which were carefully rebuilt within the 40 acre site, demonstrations and exhibits, plus an extensive artefact collection housed in the award-winning Downland Gridshell Building. Throughout the year, the Museum also hosts event days inspired by the collections, plus a programme of adult education courses in traditional rural trades and crafts.

Natural Dyed Fabrics, Yarns and Thread 

Amongst the many exhibits is this glass topped cabinet displaying items dyed using natural dyes. The dyes and mordants used were bought from George Weil in October 2016 and it's great to see the the wonderful range of colours achieved.



Some the natural dyes used for the display include Madder, Weld, Walnut Husks, Tansy, Marigold and Safflower. Our images below show the dried dye-stuff prior to dyeing.

Colours from Natural Dyes

The final colours of natural dyes will depend on the method and the type of mordant or fixative used. Some natural dyes, such as Walnut Husks and Lichens, do not require a mordant. These are classed as Substantive dyes. Adjective dyes, however, do need a mordant to combine with the dye and fix it to the material.

The roots of Madder (Rubia tinctoria) produce a colour range from bright red (Turkey Red) through to purple. Both the crimson Alizarin and rich pink Rose Madder pigment are made from Madder and are used in water colour paints. A purple can be achieved by using a copper or iron mordant.

Weld (or Dyer's Rocket) was introduced into the UK in ancient times possibly due to the bright yellow colour it can yield when used as a dye. It was used in combination with Woad (which produces a blue) to create Lincoln Green which is famously associated with the fictional Robin Hood.

Walnut Husks come from the outer green husk that contains the shell. The husks produce varying shades of brown and do not require a mordant. Walnut Husks can also be used to make an excellent deep brown ink by boiling and reducing the solution for 6-8 hours.

The Tansy plant has a strong aromatic scent which repels flies, ants and even moths. It is also said to help with bruising, rheumatism and other medical conditions. For the natural dyer, it produces a useful yellow.

Marigold - the clue is in the name - is not only a very pleasant garden plant but also a very effective source of golden yellow. The dye colour can be altered to a greeny olive by using an iron or copper mordant.

The Safflower is generally used for the production of vegetable oil but was traditionally used for colouring and flavouring. When used as a natural dye, the dried flowers produce shades of yellow through to red. This page on Jenny Dean's Wild Colour explains how to extract both yellow and red from Safflower petals.

Other historically important dye-stuff includes indigo, henna, logwood and oak bark. Browse the range of natural dyes and mordants from George Weil for further information.