Indigo Dyeing

Last week I went to the Yarner Trust in Devon for Summer Camp.  It was a week of camping in the glorious countryside, having all meals provided using as much organic and locally sourced food as possible, creative workshops both morning and afternoon followed by various entertainments in the evening.  Something for all the family from tots, teens and upwards.

The first workshop I took was led by Rosie who is a natural dyer. She explained  the various plants in the garden used for colouring fabric but this workshop was about indigo which apparently is difficult to grown in this climate.

The first thing I did was to roll hem the meter of muslin I’d been given to dye. Note the wellies in the picture, it was a very wet camp at this stage!

The next stage was to tie my fabric  into a bundle. Bearing in mine that in my last dyeing workshop I didn’t tie my fabric tight enough this time I made sure I had.

It was placed in a bowl of cold water to soak until the indigo vat was ready.

As the weather was so cold and damp it took a while for the dye to be ready – in fact we had to leave our fabrics with Rosie so she could immerse them in the vat over lunch.

A greeny coloured scum had formed on the top of the vat and I carefully lifted out my bundle.

I placed it on the grass then the magic began to happen – it turned from green to blue.

I unknotted it, removed the rubber bands with great excitement as in my mind’s eye I envisaged a dark blue and white patterned piece of fabric to emerge. I was bitterly disappointed with the result.

Far too much white. I don’t know if I’d tied it too tightly, didn’t soak it for long enough or  it wasn’t left in the dye over a sufficient time.

I rinsed it out and left it to dry outside but over the next couple of days it rained, and rained so it wasn’t until a few days later the fabric dried. 

The colour had faded so I think not a success for me. I enjoyed the process but it’s left me wondering what went wrong.

Here are images of other people’s work.