Sun Dyeing Results

Colour Project – Brown, Part 13

The Sun Dyeing experiments got off to a rather bad start with an overcast sky and continual rain for the first week of the month. In normal circumstances I could have left the jars to brew longer, although I am quite pleased with the results obtained in a mostly cold and wet winter month. The jar photos are taken just before opening.

Tea leaves – Three silks and fine cotton.


Eucalyptus Leaves – Two silks and fine cotton. The silks are a beautiful motley ivory colour.





Geranium flowers – Silk and light cotton. The strength of colour in the silk quite surprised me!


Succulent – Just a couple of pieces from the garden on a whim…Two silk and light cotton.


Puff Ball – This was a real surprise. As you can see the jar has orange/yellow fabric, when I washed this out, the large piece of silk became even brighter, almost fluorescent orange. Over the  next 10 – 15 minutes it softened to pale brown, then becoming a gorgeous chocolate brown. The right hand sample is silk organza and as strong a colour as the large middle silk satin.

Brown Onion Skins – Have produced some subtle orange/yellows.









Bark – Silk Habutai, light cotton and silk organza (which gave the strongest colour throughout the sun dyeing experiments).

In all the dyeing experiments – sun dye and boiling, the silk samples are far superior in colour.  Throughout the month I only used the leaves, skins, barks etc adding no mordants. I made a decision at the beginning  not to purchase chemicals, just to see what I could achieve naturally…

Texture and Dirt

Colour Project – Brown, Part 12

Above is a print taken from a lovely textured piece of bark. It was quite uneven so I used a roller to apply ink directly to the bark, then placed the fabric on top to print. Below the seed pods were inked individually then stamp printed onto the fabric. Both fabrics were dyed earlier in the month, top is head cloth, below is the cotton nightie.

Above – 3 weights of cotton “rubbed” with red dirt given to me by a friend, collected near a rather large rock in Australia…I left the dirt to dry on the fabric overnight, then washed it out well with soapy water. It has not changed the hand of the fabric, although I’m not sure how colour fast this method is.

It sounded like a good idea at the time…

Colour Project – Brown, Part 11

I read in a book Machine Embroidery by Valerie Campbell-Harding about baking and grilling fabrics. “turns them into the most wonderful pale to dark caramel colours.”

Wet the fabric, squeeze out under the tap and grill at a meduim heat until it turns the colour you want

I’ve never quite got the hang of my grill – as you can see below…20 minutes of nothing, then 2 minutes and the whole living area is filled with smoke, the dog is panicking as 3 smoke detectors have been set off and my fabric is on fire!

These were silkCotton, somewhat recognizable…

This piece of cotton is much larger that the others, was folded concertina style and is quite beautiful in parts…

Shades of Brown

Colour Project – Brown, Part 10


Steamed Puff Balls, Silk Dupion left and cottons.





Cotton head cloth stewed in a strong brew of Earl Grey Tea overnight.




Tea Bag Bag.

I’ve just finished this for a WAFTA  bag challenge. The handles are filled with tea and the lining is a piece of the tea dyed fabric above.




More treasures from my Dad.

Shoe lasts from his childhood on Silk satin.

Washers on cotton, the fabric was very wet.

Paj and Silk Dupion rusted with vinegar instead of lemon juice. Love the green coming through from the pieces of copper.





Colour Project – Brown, Part 8

My Dad has given me lots of rusty stuff, eucalyptus branches, lumps of wood etc  from his shed and garden for the “Brown” project. Here are the results of boiling up 3 bags of mulch he found.

(above) The lightest mulch 2 cottons and a satin silk

Mid brown mulch gave such strong colour that I threw the silk dupion (right) into the pot 1 1/2  hours after the other fabrics.


No colour after 2 hours of boiling!






Puff Balls and Onions

Colour Project – Brown, Part 7

Thanks to Anne Williams, firstly for all her generous information about simple non mordant natural dyeing possibilities and for the Puff Ball that produced this gorgeous pinkish-brown range of samples. They were boiled for 2 hours then left to cool until the evening.

Satin and Paj Silks

Silk Dupion and Head Cloth

Fine cottons


This range of fabrics dyed with brown and red onion skins. Boiled for a couple of hours then left in the pot over night.

Satin Silk and Silk Dupion

Paj Silk and a thick lose weave cotton.

Head cloth and light weight cotton

Iron and Onions

Colour Project – Brown, Part 4

               My first attempt at rusting – an old iron lever folded around light weight cotton fabric sprayed with vinegar, covered in plastic and left for several days.





(Above) One dye bath of red and brown onion skins – skins were folded in fabric and tied.

(left) old cotton sheeting (right) Headcloth

(above) Cotton Lawn

(left) Light weight cotton sleeve from an op shop,    “Victoria Secret” brand nightie …much more “Victorian” than “secret”!

Lots of lovely fine cotton though. The other sleeve is rusted above.

(left)  Paj silk, (right)  silk satin (below)  Silk Dupion – All dye beautifully!