A Little Dyeing Experiment

This Easter I was in Belgium (see full post on our blog, and all the pics on our gallery). Since we have a big garden and room to work, it was the perfect time and place to dye the fabrics I had bought for making our medieval costumes.

We bought our dye and chemicals from Zijdelings, a workshop on textile design and mailorder service from the Netherlands (part of the site is English, but if you want to order, get ready to browse in Dutch). We got pre-reduced indigo, soda ash and thioureum dioxide. Fast service, and average prices – indigo is expensive, no matter what.

We did a pre-bath mixing 4 tablespoons of indigo, 4 tablespoons of soda ash, and 8 teaspoons of thioureum dioxide in 700 ml of tap water. Mix well and carefully(!), you don’t want to stain anything blue, like your fingers (I did *ahem* skin washed off in two days tho). Remember you are using chemicals, so be careful, work in a ventilated area, don’t touch the chemicals with your barehands etc etc etc . We let it rest a whole day in an airtight closed jar until it turned greenish.

The next day we filled our big bucket from Ikea with about 30 l. of (cold) tap water, and poured the pre-bath in. Mix carefully and let rest a bit. If you are careful and do not introduce much air in the bath, you’ll be able to dye right away. Else you have to wait until it turns greenish away. Now, put your fabric in and let it under the water (the fabric will have air bubbles and you have to push it down constantly) to catch the dye for some 5 to 10 minutes (I really didn’t time this process – the colours are totally non repeatable). Fish the fabric out, wring out well without splashing much using gloves, your hands will thank you ;p and extend your fabric so it gets aired and it turns blue. Keep dipping the fabric in the same fashion until the colour is slightly darker than desired (it will wash off a bit). With this bath and white linen fabric we got a pretty dark blue shade after three dips, that will be Jan’s tunic.

We did let the dyebath rest overnight, and used the nearly exhausted bath to dye the tan linen fabric as well. Two dips later we got a blue-greenish shade that I love and that will become my dress. Want pics? See here a couple:

Dark blue indigo dyed fabric on the drying line Light blue-greenish indigo dyed folded fabric

For the whole set, please visit the photo album in our gallery.


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2 Responses to A Little Dyeing Experiment

  1. Pingback: sadevil.org » Blog Archive » April 2006

  2. Jan says:

    I have blue fingernails, Gromit!

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