There are many ways to naturally dye fabrics for creative projects or to refresh a much loved garment or faded cushion slip and one of our favourite methods is botanical bundle dyeing. Relatively new, bundle dyeing is the process of using natural materials such as petals, flowers, leaves and vegetable matter to imprint the hues and patterns of nature onto fabric. With a little practice, know how and experimenting, it’s possible to to create the most beautiful colours and effects.
Our studio neighbour and friend of Woven, Jane from Dove & Myrtle, was originally introduced to natural dyes while studying woven textiles and now uses those same methods for producing the silk bridal and seasonal wreath ribbons she uses in her floristry studio. Alongside her everlasting wreaths, Jane bundle dyed a limited collection of recycled cashmere scarves with rose, marigold and rose hips as our October Maker of the Month and we were hooked!
Once you know how, bundle dyeing is relatively straightforward and requires minimal equipment making it ideal for doing at home. Once you have your fabric, be it a new length of silk or a much loved top in need of a refresh you will need to curate a collection of botanicals to use as the dye stuff. If you don’t have the luxury of living close to a source of leaves, herbs and petals and don’t want to buy anything especially for your project, you will find a wealth of natural dye materials in your kitchen - carrot tops, turmeric, tea, coffee, red cabbage, onion skins and pomegranate skins to name just a few. Such a great way to use kitchen scraps before composting.
Rather than immersing the fabric in a dye bath to soak up the colour, bundle dyeing involves placing the botanicals directly onto the fabric and transferring the colour from one to the other by steaming. The joy of this technique is that you can never be entirely sure what the final result will be so the big reveal at the end of the process is always much anticipated - unpredictability is the only certainty!
We love a creative project for the opportunity to slow down and to be truly in the moment and bundle dyeing does just that. Slow, sustainable and seasonal. Just have a go!