Do you ever notice clothing in your closet and realize you haven’t worn it in a while, maybe not even ever? There are so many reasons for this, but if you’re like me, one of them is because I liked the style but it’s the wrong color, and I thought I’d learn to like it. Ha! Not going to happen!
You’d think we’d learn, but until then, we have over-dying. Here is a quick guide to making over clothes you just don’t wear because of the color. I just recently popped a few things into the indigo vat and love them now! I had a white cotton sweater that I thought was wearable for some reason, but I don’t wear white clothes, ever. So last week I dipped a it a few times into the indigo vat! Now it’s a lovely blue. (see photo!)
To mordant or not to mordant
What is great about the indigo vat is that you don’t have to pretreat your clothes with mordants, —same with eucalyptus dye (orange dye) —just wash and soak your clothes in warm water first, then dip. It’s that easy. With other natural dyes, you may need to mordant the fabric first to fix the color into the fibers or it will wash out, sometimes right away, sometimes not for a while. Other times, you’ll get a totally different color when you mordant, which is interesting to experiment with. For some dye plants to experiment with, checkout this post, and for a more extensive list, sign up for the local dialect newsletter and receive a freebie expanded list of dye plants.
And if you do…
If you decide to mordant, just take 1 part alum weight to 4 parts fiber weight, add to a bowl (a bowl reserved for dyeing only), add boiling water to dissolve, then fill a larger container (also not used for food, just reserved for dyeing purposes) with hot tap water, and add the dissolved alum water. Using gloves, add your washed and soaked clothes or fiber, and make sure they are thoroughly soaked with the alum water. Let it all sit overnight, then proceed with natural dyes.
One night stand
But honestly, if you are dyeing something to wear for a holiday party, do you care how long the color lasts? It just has to last one night, (but rinse well to be sure it won’t rub off on white couches!) then it can fade down to a pastel version of itself that you might really love too! So I say, if you can get a color out of a natural dye without mordanting, go for it.
Let me know how it went in the comments — I’d love to see some of your results 🙂