“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Second in our series on how to extend the life of your children’s clothing…
Question- I have set in stains. Are my clothes garbage?
Answer- NO WAY. You have several options to salvage them.
Today we will look at dyeing them using plant based dyes. It’s easy once you get the hang of it!
First, Weigh your clothing.
Second, decide what color you want to dye the clothing. Greens? Purple? Red? Orange? Brown?
Third, gather plant products to make dye. For green think spinach, leaves, grass… For purple go with blueberries, blackberries, pansies… red- try raspberries, strawberries, beets, tomatoes… Orange- carrots, sweet potato, marigolds… Brown- Roots, nuts, bark…
Fourth, chop up/pound down/pulverize your plant product. You can do this by hand or in a food processor. If you have one cup of plant materials add two cups of water, 2 cups plants add 4 cups water, etc… Bring to a roiling boil (one you cannot stir down) then reduce heat and allow to simmer for at least an hour. (If you are using roots/bark/nuts, allow to soak overnight prior to boiling). You will see the water turn a nice shade. Remember, your clothing will be lighter than the fluid. Strain to remove all leftover plant bits, be careful as this will be hot.
Fifth, prepare your clothing. A fixative is needed or the dye will begin to fade and wash out over time. If you are using a plant based dye, use 1 part vinegar to 4 parts cold water. If using a berry based dye, use 16 cups cold water and 1 cup kosher salt. Allow to dissolve. Add your clothing to the fixative, bring to a boil, return to simmer for about an hour. Cool, rinse with cold water and ring out. Now you are ready to dye. (Another option for fixative is to use Alum. Measure out 1/4 the weight of the fabric to be dyed. Fill pot with warm water (leaving adequate room for fabric). Stir until dissolved. Get your clothing wet in warm water, add to pot. Stir around so that it is fully exposed to solution. Heat to water temperature of about 200 degrees F, keep hot for at least an hour while stirring clothing occasionally. Allow clothing to cool in fixative overnight. If using this method, do not prepare dye bath until following day.)
Sixth, add your prepared clothing to the dye pot. Leave clothing simmering in the pot until desired shade is obtained. Overnight is usually the best option(turn heat off and allow to remain in bath overnight). Move fabric around, stirring with a wooden spoon every hour or two for even coloring. To alter the color of your dye bath, add 1 TBS of ferrous sulphate (iron) per pound of fabric to your dye. Gold will become green, red – plum, browns will become darker, etc… Have fun and experiment with color.
Last, remove from dye bath, ring out. Rinse with cold water until runs clear. Your clothing will be lighter colored once dry. Remember, all dyed clothing should be laundered separately as it may bleed. To retain colorfastness, add 1 cup vinegar to each wash.