September FAQ

botanical-threads-plant-dyed-fabrics

In between being exhausted from growing a baby and lreleasing a new ebook, I just about managed to find time this month to hold another Q&A session over on my Instagram stories. I really love receiving your questions as it gives me a fresh insight into what you need help with and ways that I can help…plus it gives me inspiration for blog posts and more ebooks. Here are some of the Q&A’s from this month:

What do you think could be the first steps for beginners to start plant dyeing - without getting discouraged?

Definitely use things that are easy to extract colour from and that give consistent results (well, as consistent as plant dyeing can be). That way you can build up your confidence with plant dyeing before moving onto plants that are a bit more predictable and tricky to get good colour results from. Things like avocado stones, pomegranate skins and tea are all really great for this as they tend to release their colour quickly and give good results on fabric. I was advise you to avoid using fresh flowers or leaves for your first few plant dyeing experiments as these can quickly turn brown if they are heated too quickly or allowed to get too hot.

Do you use nay detergent when you wash the dyes for the first time or do you just use water? I am scared that all of the colour will disappear.

Before washing the fabric for the first time after it has been dyed I normally let the fabric rest for about a week before ironing it to help set the colour into the fabric. I always feel that this gives me better colour results. Then, when I do that first wash I use a natural and gentle laundry powder and wash on a cool water wash (which is 30 degrees centigrade).

How did you start to build your Instagram following?

At the start of my business I took the Insta Retreat by Sara Tasker and then I put everything that i’d learnt on the course into practise. Instagram is where 99% of my business comes from so in the early days of my. business (when I still worked full time as a gardener) I would get home from work and spend hours on photos and creating good content. I always wanted to inspire and help people through my photos and words on Instagram. One thing I would say though is that it is worth remembering that the number of followers you have isn’t the most important thing - its who your audience is and how well you connect with them.

How do you plant dye silk? And which plants are the most vibrant?

When dyeing silk you just have to be gentle and make sure that the water doesn’t get too hot or it can destroy the natural sheen of the fabric and ruin its lovely texture. And it terms of vibrancy…it’s not really a case of which plants produce the most vibrant colours…but more a case of correctly pre-treating your fabrics (with soya milk, as per the method outlined in my ebooks) and also making sure that the dyes aren’t allowed to boil, as this ca destroy the colours.

I’d like to dye some linen a dark mustard yellow colour. What could I use that is fairly easy?

I would say pomegranate skins or buddies flowers for this, as you can get really strong, deep colours with both. You might find that they are a little too yellow rather than mustard, in which can you could dip the fabric in black tea dye afterwards, to tone down the colour a bit. Alternatively you could start with a fabric that is natural and unbleached (linen tends to naturally be grey/tan/light brown) which will help to tone down the yellow colour.

How did you get this gorgeous light grey? (see photo above)

This light grey came from ivy leaves but you can also get light grey from rosemary and lavender.

alicia hall