Out of the dyepot – madder

Out of the dyepot: madderA while ago I put various fabrics and threads into a new madder dyepot, took them out after a couple of days, then forgot to write a post about them. Here is a photo of the result.

The bright pinkish- red material is fine wool. Beneath it, the cotton is much paler and much less pink. The silk thread in the foreground has emerged from the pot as a relatively pale brown, whereas the cotton is pale mauve. It’s always interesting to me to see what comes out. Unpredictable….

I’ve been very busy with the day job over the last three or four weeks and it’s been hard to find any time at all for dyeing, sewing, drawing or just keeping up with blogposts. And now I have the RSI in my right hand which has slowed me up.  But I can still look at things. Today, Friday, I am in London and will be going to the Paul Klee exhibition. More on that next week.

What to do with all this naturally-dyed fabric?

Yes, well, I have accumulated rather a lot of it. I’ve given some away to a couple of stitching friends, but I still have lots left. The problem is that dyeing fabric is, on the whole, a lot quicker than making things. The first natural dyeing I did was at a one-day workshop run by Claire Wellesley-Smith who blogs as Clarabella early in 2013. I took away some pieces of dyed fabric and was just thrilled to ribbons with them. The first thing I made was this pincushion:Pincushion made of naturally dyed fabrics

It’s a cube made of 1cm square fabric pieces, dyed with indigo, logwood, madder and something I forget that produced that rather attractive olive green. I made this using the English paper piecing method which was a bit fiddly but still nice to do.

I’m currently working on a quilting project using some of the naturally-dyed fabric that I’ve produced since I went to Claire’s workshop. I’ll blog about this project once I’ve finished it.

In the dyepot today

Today I’ve started a new madder dyepot using around 5gm of madder extract. I’m concentrating mostly on dyeing threads as I’m running out of madder-dyed threads, but I’ve also put in a piece of silk noil and a piece of fine wool. I heated the pot to around 60C and will leave it overnight so that everything gets a good soak for 24 hours at least. Then I’ll hang up the threads and cloth to dry. Let’s see what I get tomorrow….

Dyeing with madder

I love the range of pinks, reds and browns you can get with the natural dye madder. While it would be nice to grow my own madder roots, and I may get round to it someday, for the moment I’ve been using the powdered extract. Here are some of the results:

Dyeing with madderOne of the things I’m finding unpredictable about natural dyeing is the way dyes respond to different types of fabric. I’ve tried out several madder dye baths and I’m finding that cotton tends to produce  a more purplish-pink, whereas silk yields a more brown/apricot shade. The central strip of fabric in this picture is silk velvet which dyes beautifully. I really love this shade.

I’ve produced several skeins of thread – cotton, wool and silk. This photo shows some of the silks:

Silk threads dyed with madderAs with the fabrics, silk thread tends to take on a brown/apricot hue. Very attractive, but what if I want to dye cotton the same colour?  I know already that it will come out pink. I suppose my overall aim with natural dyeing is to produce a full spectrum of colours in cotton, silk, linen, wool… I’ll keep posting about my success – or failure – in doing this.