There are many natural applications that can be used for dying fabrics and materials. There are also several ways to add prints and patterns to designs by using age-old, resourceful techniques.
Naturally coloring fabrics and designing prints can be done right in your backyard.
Read on for great how to’s and look below for the before and afters.
The sun can have powerful effects on textiles, and that can be used in your favor if trying to add a decorative touch to fabrics. A simple, organic way to add prints to fabrics is to work with flowers, greenery and herbs as the dye base.
Using non-synthetic fabrics work best, and for optimal results many will need to be pre-treated. This is dependent on how the natural colorant will adhere to the fabric fibers. Some items like beets, avocados, coffees, teas and brightly hued spices work well on their own, but if a dye set is needed there are a few ways to do this without relying solely on chemical processing.
One way to pretreat fabrics to help retain colorant and images is to give the cloth a soak in a mixture of salt, vinegar or placing in an alum bath. Alum is a mineral salt that used to be a popular ingredient in many traditional pickling recipes and is still found in other household items. It is also used as a mordant for dyes and tanning leathers as it is regarded as a safer alternative to using highly chemically based treatments.
It is important to note what type of alum you are purchasing as some that are labeled as natural can actually be irritating or even toxic in large quantities. Originally, alums were a high concentration of salts like potassium aluminum sulfate or aluminum ammonium sulfate, but today several other compounds may be referred to as alums. Food grade alum can often be found in the spice isle, and is the purest, safest choice. Cream of tartar can also be used with alum to brighten colors and make fabrics softer.
When working with any powders or salts, use proper precautions and do not breathe in the particles. Do a search or contact a non-emergency poison control contact if you have any questions about the safety of the ingredients in a product. It is recommended that fabrics be gently washed separately and thoroughly rinsed after the dye is set.
This project utilizes outdoor finds, the flower pounding method and just a few other ingredients for effective results. It can be set with an iron or with sunlight.
The cyanotype process, or sometimes referred to as sun printing, can be attributed to botanist Anna Atkins and has been used for well over 100 years. It involves putting items onto a light receptive surface which will allow the sunlight to permeate it, leaving a print behind.
Fabrics and papers specifically for this process can be purchased, and some are chemically treated to increase their sensitivity to light which helps the print develop. Check what the items are coated with if unsure.
This method can even be used to generate low toxicity prints for various textiles and other materials.
This tutorial is a great guide for do it yourself sun printing on fabrics.
Creating naturally fantastic prints allows you to capture some of nature’s ever changing scenery.
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