Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - Natural Craft -

AV­O­CADO SKINS Use 100g chopped av­o­cado skin in 3.5 litres of cold wa­ter for the dye bath. MINT

Use a large bunch of fresh mint in 3.5 litres cold wa­ter for the dye bath. BLACK­BER­RIES

Press 1 kg of black­ber­ries or mul­ber­ries through a veg­etable press or juice ex­trac­tor. Re­serve the juice for cook­ing or drink­ing and put the pulp and seeds into 3.5 litres of cold wa­ter for the dye bath. RED WINE

Di­lute a bot­tle and a half of tan­nin-rich red wine (a good strong red) with 2 litres of cold wa­ter for the dye bath. (This does not need to be pre-sim­mered.) AV­O­CADO SEEDS

Put 6 av­o­cado seeds in 3.5 litres of cold wa­ter. Bring to the boil, then lower heat and al­low to sim­mer un­til the seeds are soft enough to break apart, then sim­mer for an­other hour, stir­ring from time to time. OAK LEAVES Pre­pare dye bath as for mint leaves, re­plac­ing fresh mint with 100g fresh green oak leaves. ROSE­MARY Pre­pare dye bath as for mint, re­plac­ing fresh mint with 100g fresh rose­mary. BLACK TEA Use 4 or­di­nary black tea bags in 3.5 litres of cold wa­ter for the dye bath. Bring to a bare sim­mer and main­tain at this tem­per­a­ture for 30 min­utes, stir­ring reg­u­larly.

GENERAL IN­STRUC­TIONS Gather your sup­plies

• Dye base recipe (see op­po­site)

• 2 large pots and tongs

• Strainer or sieve

• Nat­u­ral fab­ric

• Mor­dant: potas­sium alu­minium sul­phate or salt

• Rub­ber gloves

For you to note

When dye­ing, do not use uten­sils and con­tain­ers you use for cook­ing. And wear rub­ber gloves to avoid stain­ing your hands.

Pre­pare the dye bath

STEP 1 Place the spec­i­fied amounts of chopped plant ma­te­rial and wa­ter in a large non-re­ac­tive pot (such as stain­less steel or glass). Re­fer to dye recipes. STEP 2 Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and sim­mer for about an hour, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Re­move from the heat and al­low to stand overnight. STEP 3 Strain the dye, dis­card solids and re­turn liq­uid to the pot. Set aside.

For you to note

When us­ing nat­u­ral dyes, you need to use a ‘mor­dant’ to help fix the colour in the fab­ric. For most veg­etable dyes, you can use alum (potas­sium alu­minium sul­phate) as a mor­dant. It is read­ily avail­able from on­line and at se­lected chemists. It’s easy to use, in­ex­pen­sive and a good mor­dant for cot­ton, linen and wool. For dyes made with berries, it is bet­ter to use salt. You will need about 20g of alum per 100g of dry weight fab­ric, or 1⁄2 cup salt per 8 cups of wa­ter. Us­ing a mor­dant helps you achieve vi­brant dyed fab­rics, so don’t be tempted to skip this part.

Mor­dant the fab­ric

STEP 4 Wash fab­ric to re­move any dirt or siz­ing (dress­ing), wring it out and leave damp.

STEP 5 In a large clean pot, put enough wa­ter to al­low the fab­ric to be com­pletely sub­merged. (Mea­sure the wa­ter if us­ing salt, see ra­tio above.) Heat wa­ter to al­most boil­ing and stir in mor­dant (alum or salt) un­til dis­solved. STEP 6 Im­merse the damp fab­ric in the mor­dant bath and sim­mer for 1 hour, stir­ring gently with tongs from time to time. Re­move pot from heat and let soak overnight. Wear­ing rub­ber gloves, rinse in clean wa­ter, wring out, but leave damp.

Dye­ing the fab­ric

STEP 7 Im­merse the damp, mor­danted fab­ric in the pre­pared dye bath.

STEP 8 Heat un­til just sim­mer­ing and sim­mer for 1 hour. Stir now and then.

STEP 9 Re­move pot from heat and check fab­ric colour. Remember the fab­ric will be lighter when it dries. Darker hues can be achieved by al­low­ing the fab­ric to sit longer or overnight in dye bath.

STEP 10 When fab­ric is the de­sired colour, re­move from dye and rinse in cold wa­ter un­til wa­ter runs clear. Let fab­ric dry. There is no need to heat set.

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