• Madwomanstitches

Module 7: Dyeing Fabrics ... amazing experiments with colour - part 1.

I am going to really enjoy writing this blog as there is so much to say and to show you! It will be written over 3 parts, just because of the sheer volume of material. It was such a fun module to complete and I am super excited to share it with everyone. I am sharing ALL my dye samples, as it would not really be possible to repeat, unless you had exactly the same dye, fabrics and conditions.

Basically, this module of work encourages you to play with dyes, paints & colours and gives you a whole range of fabrics to stitch on. I collected samples of natural fibres: cotton, silk, linen, wool, etc and also furnishing and man-made fabrics, including polyester.

I also used various textures of fabric, so scrim, calico, cotton lawn, cotton jersey; canvas, organza, velvet were all used in the experiments. I will share with you just some of the techniques I tried. There are so many ways of colouring fabric and I didn't even try to test them all out for this module ... just enough to get me through the necessary work. At this point in the course, I realised that I was probably attempting to do way too much and that it is a means to an end; after which, I can play to my heart's content, without having to record every minute detail as evidence. Don't get me wrong ... evidence is needed, but only so much!

In preparation for the module, I booked a 'Wild Dyeing' workshop. It was a natural dyeing weekend with the lovely Rosie Hazleton at her family's wonderful home in a gorgeous woodland setting in Cannich, Scotland. We foraged for materials to use as dyes; boiled them up in pots over an open fire in and then dyed wool from their flock of Shetland sheep. Learning about dyes, mordants, eco-printing and so much more was a real treat. This website has details of courses run by Rosie and her husband:


Here are some photographs of this fabulous weekend.

This is turmeric .. a beautiful, rich yellow.

Lichen, gives a subtle lemon shade.

Heather is surprising, in that you get the most lovely yellow. Elderberries result in a warm pink/purple.

Birch leaves give this rich earthy green/brown.

Every dye batch lead to more and more surprises. We also tried Indigo and Woad, which can be seen in this photograph:

It's really amazing the breadth of colour we achieved. Some of the dyes needed a 'Mordant' - vinegar, Alum and iron are examples. The mordant fixes the dye. I don't intend to write about the process here as there are many websites with expertise that I don't yet have.

The last experiment we did was 'eco-printing'. We took some leaves and flowers, wrapped and tied with string, in a piece of silk and steamed them for a few hours. The next day, we unwrapped our 'gifts' to see the magic. I love this process and intend to try out some more.

And finally, for today's blog: a sample page from a notebook we all made on our last day ... a record of the dyes and mordants and samples of wool to take home. Don't you just love the mix of Heather & Indigo? It is such a vibrant green.

Have you tried natural dyeing or eco-printing? If you did, what are your thoughts and what did you use the fabric / wool for? I would love to see examples. Thanks for reading xx

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