In the Dye Studio: How to Host a Natural Dyeing Party (Part 1)

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 06, 2018 0 Comments

In our newsletter this month, we announced the 1st AVFKW Dye Day, coming up on Saturday, August 25th! August 25th is two and a half weeks out - so it's time to start planning! 

We want to help you plan a unique and fun natural dyeing party with your friends. Kristine, Adrienne, and I have been teaching natural dyeing classes at home and abroad for over 10 years, so we have a lot of experience and tricks for hosting a successful event. Unless you have been stocking up, or have a regular dye practice, you will probably need to gather some supplies and materials ahead of time - so let’s get started now!

Your guide throughout this process, other than these blog posts, is our book The Modern Natural Dyer. MND (as we call it) was published in October 2015 and is a great resource for new and experienced dyers. I use it as a reference in the dye studio at least once every week! If you don't have a copy yet, you can purchase a signed copy (including a naturally dyed bookmark) from our website here.

We stock all the scours, mordants, dyes, indigo suppliesdyeable fabric, and yarn that you'll need to get your party started! Check the end of this post for a discount you can use when you purchase natural dyeing supplies from us - including your copy of MND.

The two types of dyeing that we think work best in a group setting like a dye party are eco-printing and indigo dyeing. These two processes are pretty different from one another and require different tools, materials, and preparation. I'll help you pick which type of dyeing you'd like to host (maybe you want to do both!) and make sure you have all the tools and information you need. This blog post overs eco-printing - click here to read the indigo post. 

Eco-printing is the process of pressing whole dyestuffs, like flower petals and leaves, into fabric, bundling the fabric tightly together, and heating it in a dye pot. Your fabric must be scoured and mordanted before applying your dyestuffs, and you'll want to make sure you are using some plants that are listed in MND (like marigolds, cosmos, and coreopsis) that give good color and are lightfast. 

Eco-printing works well with a wide range of fabrics, from light weight wovens to jersey to heavier flannels, and any natural fiber type including wool, silk, cotton, and linen. It's great for small to large projects - you could dye fabric to make the sewing kit from MND (page 79), a project bag for your knitting, or an Endless Summer Tunic.

To host an eco-printing party, you'll need your dyestuffs (you can grow these, purchase from a nursery, or carefully forage for them), dowels or branches, strong thread, and a medium-sized pot to hold the bundles from each of your party-goers. You'll also need a heat source (like your kitchen stove or a propane burner in your backyard). Your attendees will need to scour and mordant their chosen fabric ahead of time. Tell your friends to scour at least 2 days in advance and to mordant at least 1 day in advance - so they arrive at your dye party ready to go. They can easily dry their fabric out to make transportation easier.

Once your supplies are gathered and your friends have arrived, follow the directions for the Flowers At My Fingertips Sewing Kit (page 79). After everyone has carefully unwrapped their bundles, do a little show and tell so everyone can see what was made!

Eco-printing supplies to gather:
+ Fresh flowers like marigolds, cosmos, and coreopsis
+ Dowels, PVC pipe, or sticks, approx 1-2" in diameter, 1 per person per fabric
+ Medium to large pot (20 qt should fit approx 8-10 bundles)
+ Button and craft thread, or other strong cotton string
+ Tongs, rubber gloves

Eco-printing homework for attendees:
+ Scour your fabric at least 2 days in advance and mordant at least 1 day in advance before the party (see MND pages 56-59)
+ Bring some flowers, leaves, or other plant material from your garden

Eco-printing tips and tricks:
+ We recommend that 80% of the dyestuffs you are using are plants that you know produce color on cloth. Experimenting with a few plants from your garden can be a lot of fun but this helps avoid disappointment when you unwrap your bundle.
+ If your friends are dyeing similar looking fabrics, tie a small piece of colored thread around your fabric (or embroider initials) in order to tell them apart
+ Be careful when unwrapping your bundles - even if they feel cool to touch on the outside, they may be hot inside! Have a couple buckets of cold water on hand to rinse and cool your bundles before opening.
+ If you wish you had more color on your fabric, don't despair - you can put fresh flowers down, retie your bundle, and pop it back in the pot again!

To be continued in Part 2 ... click here to read about hosting an indigo party.

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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The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Flowers at My Fingertips Sewing Kit

Posted by Kristine Vejar on May 04, 2016 1 Comment

Walk into your own front yard, wander through your garden, and at your fingertips there very well could be dye plants growing.

May's Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along project is the Flowers at My Fingertips Sewing Kit. Through this project, we explore how the garden is a source of dye plants, and how to take those flowers and leaves and print with them on fabric. This process is also referred to as eco-printing and in my mind was first popularized by artist and natural dyer, India Flint. Not all flowers are created the same in the eye's of the dyer, there are certainly some whose color and print are longer-lasting than others, and we cover those in The Modern Natural Dyer. That said, I have seen some really amazing, unexpected results from plants I wouldn't have typically deemed as "dye plants". Perhaps it is the fact that the flower is so intently pushed into the surface of the fabric.

Once the fabric has been printed, it is cut and sewn into a traveling sewing kit.

This is what it looks like folded; all of your tools ready for a journey. I don't know about you but there is rarely a time I don't have a sewing or knitting project in tow.

Here are a few tips when approaching this project:

+ Always mordant your fabric for the most long-lasting and saturated color.
+ I used wool flannel for my sewing kit, though, feel free to use other medium weight fabrics, like white cotton denim, and simply follow the directions for scouring and mordanting cellulose-based goods.
+ Turn to The Modern Natural Dyer's 20-page spread of dye plants to find those which will make great dye - and for ideas of what to plant in your garden this Spring!
+ Experiment with plants in your yard, you only have to scour and mordant once, you can keep dye many times on that piece of fabric - in case you would like to add more layers, or a flower fades.
+ Though I made this kit with the sewer in mind, it could easily be adapted for knitting tools.

To help you with sourcing the materials for this project, at Verb, we have made a kit. This is a great project for you to do with kids! It includes the scour, mordant, fabric, thread, and branch which you use in the dyeing process.

If you are in the area, I am teaching a class on eco-printing called Mapping Color. Join me in making your own eco-printed fabric! And if you are interested in growing your very own dye garden, join Adrienne for her class, Growing and Gathering Dye Plants.

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