Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Friday, May 1, 2015

addendum: dyeing with plants

So my article on dyeing with plants is in the latest issue of Seamwork, and I thought I'd post some pictures and stuff from my own projects (because I think Colette Patterns is using their own artwork).

Here's what coreopsis tinctoria (aka dyer's coreopsis) looks like in the garden. I plant this every year from Old Sturbridge Village seeds; they package their own, and they grow fan-freaking-tastically in our backyard. OSV also has a dye garden, if you're ever in Massachusetts and want to see some plants up close and personal-like. They also have a couple of great textile exhibits and do a Textile Days weekend every year.

I love these guys. They're so cheery.

And I always wind up with a ton of them, so I don't mind harvesting a bunch for the dyepot. ;)

I used a camp stove with a propane tank in the backyard for awhile, which was pretty fun.

Fabric dyeing in progress, using wool from Weircrafts.com, a dollmaking supplies site. (As I mentioned in the article, lots of people dye yarn, but I don't knit...yet...so I use lengths of fabric instead.) Coreopsis makes a really strong dyebath. I've messed around with different mordants and only ever seem to get orange and yellow from it.

Here's the finished dyed wool, rinsed and drying on my fence. The color lightens a bit as it dries.

That looks...ugly. What can I say?

And here's a finished project, Cation Designs' All-Purpose Plushie. The left critter uses wool dyed using purple basil, the right with coreopsis.

Purple basil is a giant pain in the butt to dye with -- you have to use a lot of plants and the color comes out fairly faint -- but I do love the color, so I'm trying it again this year. (Speaking of which: I'm planning to post dye experiments here and over on my Pinterest board.)

So that's it! Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, let me know in the comments. I'll answer if I can.


  1. I love your dyeing experiments! In my opinion both colours look great and you've been very successful.