Natural dyeing, first thoughts

I’m always looking for a new creative outlet, so when I read Gemma’s post on natural dyes I was intrigued and keen to delve straight in to something new.

fruits veggies and flowers for natural dyeing

Gemma’s post was a brilliant introduction showing the beautiful results possible, I did however want to explore the topic further and perhaps read maybe too many blog posts and articles which in all honesty just made a simple process more confusing than it needed to be.

The one thing I took away from the majority of articles on natural dyeing was that natural dyeing is considered to be an eco-friendly practice, and whilst I can see why, there were a few things that made me think otherwise.

natural dyed fabric

The amount of energy used to boil the water, simmer the dye solutions and whatnot adds up to burning a lot of fuel for an eco-friendly process, in some cases the combined time was 2 hours!  Whilst I understand the need to for this to extract/infuse as much colour as possible I just couldn’t justify using this much energy for what was essentially dyeing scraps of fabric.  This led me to leaving fabrics in the dye solutions over night and using a process called solar dyeing.  Whilst neither process would offer the same results as if I had used the stove top, I feel a bit better about my carbon footprint.

natural dyed fabric and solar dyeing

There is also the potential for a lot of waste from the steamed fruit, veggies and flowers once the dyes have been extracted, after much digging around on Google I determined that these are all compostable, it’s the lack of added ingredients, cooking oils and fats make them compostable.  Which is great for landfill and our gardens.

In a similar vein was the potential waste of the dye solutions themselves.  Again, the wasting of so much water just didn’t sit right for an eco-friendly activity. You could either freeze the dye solutions for future use or use it to water the garden rather than empty it down the drain.

Another thing I noticed in the articles was the perfection of the fruits, vegetables and plants used; this could just have been for the sake of pretty photos, but it’s worth noting that wilted flowers, bruised veggies and soften fruits work just as well as those in their prime.  Crispy Sunflower petals and deadheaded flowers worked just as well as fresh fruit and flowers.

naturally dyed fabrics

If you do decide to dabble in some natural dyeing, regardless of the method used, you’re guaranteed to get some interesting results!

These observations are nothing ground breaking and I hope I don’t come across as critical of others, these are just things I picked up on whilst dabbling with natural dyeing.