In the Dye Studio: How to Host a Natural Dyeing Party (Part 2)

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 07, 2018 0 Comments

Today on the blog we're sharing tips and tricks for hosting your very own natural dyeing party. Click here to read Part 1 (eco-printing).

Next up - indigo! Indigo dyeing gives us all the shades of blue, and is a unique process compared to all other natural dyes. Every time I pull a skein of yarn or piece of fabric from the indigo vat, I am awed by the chemistry, beauty, and transformation that occurs on my fiber. With an indigo vat, it is easy to dye fabric or yarn - great if you have knitters coming to your dye day. Your attendees will have a little less prep work required compared to eco-printing, because their goods will only need to be scoured. Creating and maintaining the indigo vat on dye day takes a little more attention and work, and it can be a good idea to share the responsibility with another friend to ensure things run smoothly.

Indigo dyeing also works well on a wide range of materials. Linen fabric is my favorite to dye, as it takes the dye very beautifully and it can be easier to achieve a darker shade than with silk or cotton. This is a great opportunity to try some resist dyeing, like stitch or clamp resist, to create patterns on your fabric. This also means the size of the fabric going into your vat is smaller - great if you are working on a smaller scale. Just like with eco-printing, there's a wide range of projects you can use your fabric for: dye a small piece of fabric to create a special bag or to use in boro patchwork, or use stitch resist on a large piece of fabric to create fabric for a garment (like the Fishbone Dress, page 177).

To host an indigo dyeing party, you'll need materials and tools to create 1-3 indigo mothers, as well as supplies to keep your vat calibrated, and several buckets for dyeing and washing. We recommend having your indigo dyeing party outside. Your attendees will need to scour their fabric or yarn at least 1 day in advance. Their goods can easily be dried out to make transportation easier. 

How much dye do you need? For 12 participants, each dyeing approximately 2 yards of fabric, we prepare 3-4 mothers, and gradually add these to 3 vats made in 5-gallon buckets. The indigo recipe is on page 133 of MND - decide how many mothers you want to prepare, and multiple the amounts for each component to figure out how much to purchase. 

Once your supplies are gathered and your friends have arrived, follow the directions to make your indigo mothers (page 133) and then one of the indigo projects like the Blue Skies Tote to create your vats (page 139). Recalibrate your vats as needed throughout the day (page 136). Share your projects with your friends and share in the feeling of wanting to dye everything in your house blue!

Indigo supplies to gather:
+ Indigo, sodium hydroxide, sodium hydrosulphite for your indigo mothers
+ Soda ash and sodium hydrosulphite to prep and recalibrate the vats
+ 1-3 quart-size canning jars
+ pH strips
+ Thermometer
+ White plastic spoon
+ Whisk
+ Rubber gloves, protective eyewear
+ 1-3 5-gallon buckets
+ Hot water - enough to fill your buckets
+ Drying rack or clothesline

Indigo homework for attendees:
+ Scour at least 1 day in advance
+ Bring supplies for resist dyeing, like clothespins, needle and strong thread, rubber bands
+ Bring rubber gloves and aprons

Indigo tips and tricks:
+ If practicing resist dyeing, add or remove areas of resist after a few dips to achieve a wider range of shades
+ Check the temperature, pH, and reduction of your vat throughout the day and follow the steps on page 136 to recalibrate if needed 

Wow! That's a lot of information. You'll still need The Modern Natural Dyer to prepare and host your dye day - you can see why we wanted to write this book! If you get stuck, review Dyeing 101 and Dyeing with Indigo to get back on track.

Next week I'll be back to discuss our larger dye kits (like the Indigo + Shibori Dye Kit) and answer any questions that arise between now and then.

Use the hashtag #AVFKWDyeDay on your IG photos on August 25th to see people around the country hosting their own dye party! We also have a brand new hashtag for IG photos of in process and finished objects using materials you have purchased at AVFKW. Tag your photos with #Verbalong, and be eligible to win a gift in our monthly drawing!

Do you need help selecting the appropriate scours, mordants, and dyes? Give us a call at 510-595-8372 or email info (at) averbforkeepingwarm (dot) com and we'll help you out.

To celebrate and prepare for the upcoming dye day, we are offering 15% off natural dyes, kits, The Modern Natural Dyer, and more. Enter AVFKWDyeDay at checkout to receive your discount.

-- Sarah

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