Did you know that leaves, stems, bark, roots, seeds and fruit from your very own garden can be used to make brilliant, non-toxic natural dyes for your favorite silk shawls, scarves, accessories and more? Mother Nature provided us with so many wonderful resources to create, play and have fun with! Let’s use them!
Silk is the most luxurious of all textiles; it’s also the sexiest and most seductive. Believe it or not, silk is the easiest fabric to dye. It is the most absorbent of all textiles, and its silky smooth fibers act as a prism in the light, reflecting a magnificent spectrum of oscillating shades for any one color. This effect is what gives silk its glorious luster and sheen.
So grab some old silk shawls, scarves, and accessories in need of revitalizing and let’s have some fun! And while we are on the topic of sexy and seductive, let’s dye our silk a rich, sultry red. Red is powerful, passionate and steaming with strength and confidence. The power of a single red silk shawl or silk scarf should not be underestimated. Wear it with a simple black dress, or drape it over a lampshade. You will thank me for it later, I guarantee it.
First thing you want to do is gather your natural dye materials. For a passionate, garnet-red dye, Brazilwood works beautifully. It is inexpensive to buy, easy to use and produces rich, vibrant colors. Next prepare your dye solution by chopping the wood into small pieces the size of wood chips. Place the wood chips in a pot with double the amount of water to wood chips. Leave the wood chips and water mixture to saturate over night.
The next day, prepare your shawls and scarves for the dye bath by soaking it in a color fixative. This will ensure that the color sets in the fabric. Mix 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar in a large pot, add your silk and simmer for an hour. Rinse in cool water and squeeze out any excess.
Meanwhile, bring your saturated dye solution to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Strain out all wood chips. Set the wood chips aside and use them again (you can probably get 2 more good dye baths out of them).
Now you are ready to add your fixative-soaked silk to the dye solution. Simmer together until you are happy with the color. For a deeper shade of red, simmer for 20-30 minutes and then allow the fabric to soak in the dye solution overnight.
The next day, hang your brilliant new shawls and scarves out to dry. Admire your beautiful work, then rinse them out with cold water to remove excess dye solution. Hang out to dry again and voila!