Lots of harvesting going on here and that means I need to inventory and clean out the freezers. I meant to do this earlier in the summer when the produce was still in the garden, but I just didn’t make time for it.
While cleaning out the freezers I found a couple bags of old blackberries. These were vintage 2012 and 2013. Since we have a bumper crop this year, I decided to try dyeing with blackberries.
First to make the dye pot. I poured all of the frozen blackberries into the dye pot and put them out in the sun to thaw.
After thawed, I crushed them with my hands. You notice I am wearing gloves!
After I felt they were crushed enough I added just a little bit of water. I heated the blackberries and juice on high until they were hot, but not boiling. Then I turned the heat to low and let it cook for 30 minutes.
After the 3o minutes I removed the dye pot from the heat and let it cool down over night. The next day I strained the pot to get rid of the seeds.
Now I needed to prepare the fabric. I’m using silk, linen, cotton, and cotton clothesline cord.
I dissolved one tablespoon of Alum to a gallon of hot water. Once it cooled to warm, I added the fabric and let them soak for 30 minutes.
Now it was time to add the fabric to the dye pot.
I let the dye pot heat to just under a simmer for 30 minutes and then moved the pot out to the dye studio to sit overnight.
After 24 hours I remove one of the silk scarves and a piece of fabric. Here is how they looked after washed, dried, and ironed.
As you can see, the cotton piece is barely dyed. So I decided I’d leave the rest of the fabric in the pot for three days.
Here are the results of the other silk scarf and two hankies. The top hankie is linen which did take the dye better. The spots on the bottom hankie are probably from berries that I didn’t get out of the dye sitting on the fabric for three days!
Here are two pieces of cotton fabric.
And a bandana for Dave. It’s the spiral design but I folded it in fourths so you could see the design.
And the clothesline cord. It’s not real dark, but it does have a slight purple and blue tint. I think it will make a lovely bowl.
This picture shows all but the cord. You can see the difference better in this picture between the one day verses three days on both the silk scarves and the hankies.
From this grand experiment I found that silk dyes much better. Even after three days the cotton fabric and the bandana are pretty light.
Of course, if you’d rather eat the blackberries, check out my recipes here.
Want some other inspiration? Check out what others are doing for Off The Wall Friday.
Interesting experiment, and good use of old berries. I have never tried natural dyeing, so no nothing about the chemistry needed (alum, vs soda ash which I’m used to using). Is there any way to further increase the color intensity, or is that counter to what you would expect using natural dyeing techniques?
Judy, I researched a bit before I did this and most people do use alum although I did see a recommendation for vinegar. I thought keeping them in the vat for three days would help, and it did help some, but still not very dark. I experimented several years ago with Perilla (https://lyndaheines.blog/2011/07/dyeing-with-perilla/) and I was less than impressed with the results. I think after loving the bright colors we get with fiber reactive dyes, it’s hard for me to get into the subtle colors of natural dyeing.
Very interesting, thanks for sharing!
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Vera, Thanks and thanks for dropping by!