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solar dyeing tutorial using a direct contact method

Solar dyeing is a stress-free starting point if you’re a beginner natural dyer. Solar dyeing uses the sun as the energy source versus heating a pot of dye on the stove. Dyeing with botanicals keeps the earth in mind throughout the entire process. Using the sun makes the process even more environmentally friendly. You can follow this tutorial with a specific project in mind, or experiment with the fabric scraps you have laying around.

I have found that a 21” x 21” piece of fabric makes a nice neckerchief. I am using a 12” x 70” piece of silk.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Scrap pieces of fabric - wool, silk, linen, cotton (fat quarter, linen napkin)

  • Water

  • Jar (or a Tupperware bowl and some saran wrap)

  • Dye materials - flowers, leaves, sticks. You might be surprised to learn what natural dye materials you already having around the house or in the garden! Some examples include: onion skins, red cabbage, wild flowers like dandelions & violets, teas, avocado pits or shells, spices like paprika or turmeric. Experimenting with other plants, veggies & kitchen goods will make the end result a glorious surprise!

To start, lay your fibers out on a flat surface & wet them thoroughly. To enhance the colors, you can wet your fibers with a 3:1 water:vinegar solution.

Place your plant materials directly on the fibers.

Fold the fibers in half, and the ends in. Roll. Re-wet your fiber roll.

Place the rolled up fibers into your jar & cover. Put the jar in a warm, sunny spot - either outside or in a windowsill. The sun will heat up the silks and water & imprint the colors of the plant materials into the silk. I left mine outside for 24 hours. It was VERY hot that day, so I did not let my silk sit in direct sunlight.

Unroll when you like the colors. Rinse with warm water.


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