Eco Dyeing

Some Images of eco dyeing by Kate Martin.
Top right shows fabric laid out with fruits, vegetables and flowers ready to be eco dyed.

Eco Dyeing Process

A piece of fabric is laid out on a table and all the plant and vegetable materials are placed on the fabric (shown below, first pic).  The fabric is then rolled up into a bundle and steamed or simmered in a pot for over 3 hours.  The natural pigments in the leaves, plants, vegetables, etc. leech into the fabric creating a stain.  The bath that the bundle is placed in usually has Australian Eucalyptus leaves or another natural material or metal that are “mordants” for fixing the stain and can provide another layer of colour to the fabric.  By tightly binding the fabric bundle with cord it creates even more texture as the dye bath colour takes a deeper colour in the areas not tightly tied up.

The piece of fabric is left in the bath until it cools to room temperature.  It is then unwrapped to remove the spent vegetable matter and then rinsed using, for example, a mixture of water and vinegar which acts as an additional mordant so that the fabrics are completely colourfast.  Another benefit of eco dyeing is that the process completely shrinks the fabric so garments made from this fabric are machine washable – no dry cleaning necessary.

Not all fabrics are able to be eco dyed.  Most fabrics are so highly chemically treated during manufacture that the fibres are “locked” making them resistant to natural pigments.  This is why Te Kooti Milkymerino™ is so special.  Because it is chemical free and still a “living” wool it’s natural proteins enable the yarn to fully absorb the natural pigments to give brilliant results with vibrant colours.  All our artisans agree that this is the best fabric that they have ever worked with.

Artisans that we work with and examples of their work:     Kate Martin     Zephlyn Neilsen     Tina Whitely

For more information on Eco Dyeing there is a wealth of information on the internet....