Monday, October 10

My trial & error at dyeing with kitchen products

My first step for the Covered in Stitches Project I was talking about before was to find the right skin tones for the characters in my book cover.
To be honest I wasn't really sure I was going to find the right color in fabric, thanks to Mother Nature, last Saturday morning when I was about to head to the fabric store, it suddenly started to rain heavily and hail so I had to stay home and use my brain to figure out how was I going to get the project done, or more like start it without leaving my cozy and safe home.

This is the book and some white cotton fabric I had on stash. The skin tones didn't look so hard to achieve, I don't want them to be the exact same tone because it's impossible but a inspired one would be ok.
I've read around the web about dyeing with tea, coffee and spices, it looked like a great idea for a rainy day so I started with 3 cups, each for each swatch I cut:
I boiled water and after placing each of them in the cups, I soaked the swatches in cold water (don't know why but it seemed right to do so :p)
Trial 1
Pink Cup is full with a black tea bag and a tea spoon of coffee,
Green Cup is full with a tea bag,
Blue Cup is half full with a tea bag.
Time: 3 hours
Results:   All of them got the same tone, which is a nice one but I wanted it darker.

Trial 2
Again boiled water and rinsed each swatch before placing them in each cup.
Pink Cup is half full with 2 or 3 spoons of coffee, it's a granulated one.
Green Cup is empty, I liked the tone of trial 1.
Blue Cup is full with 2 tea bags
Time: all night
Results: very happy with the blue cup one, the pink one was promising but after I rinsed it, the color faded away and it went back to the original "green cup tone"
Results so far
Close to the skin tones, but one of the lighter swatches needs to be darker.
Trial 3 -trying something different, spices!-
Boiled water, filled a cup and a bowl, rinsed the lighter swatches (pink and green cup's) in:

Bowl: Added some paprika (pictured) and rubbed a little bit of tandori masala on the fabric.
Green Cup: Added spice for rice
Time: for the green cup, about an hour or 2 and all night and a little more for the bowl.
Results:  Stunning, I'm shocked at how the spice of rice dyes!, the result was a bright yellow, which is not handy for this project but it was nice to discover. However I'm happy with the Tandori Masala one, I thought it was going to wash off but it stained just as I wanted, very subtle, it comes handy for one of the character's skin.

 Since I couldn't lighten this bright yellow, I had to go back, cut another swatch and do trial 1 again, and these are all my home-dyed swatches:

And the final results! I'm happy with these skin tones I've achieved, I can't wait to embroider on them! 
One last tip: 
I've read that if you are dying garments or items like bags, you should add white vinegar or salt to the dye preparation so the color doesn't fade away, I don't think that'll be necessary for me since I'm making patches and embroider on them but it's a good tip.
More Colors!
· Making Natural Dyes from Plants: a very eye catching list of natural materials to dye with.
En realidad no busque sitios, pero sin querer encontre este articulo sobre como obtener un color rosa con elementos naturales.


  1. Cool results! I bet the spice for rice has turmeric in it—it always turns things that shade of yellow.

    My sister and I dyed Easter eggs with things around the house (of course, we didn't have coffee, tea or turmeric). Always fun!

  2. I had good luck with using eucalypt leaves and leaving them to die in a jar in the sun. Its amazing the colours you can with natural products.

  3. Thanks!, Never tried dyeing Easter eggs, I should give it a try, sounds like fun!

    Eucalypt leaves, interesting. The idea of dyeing with leaves didn't come into my mind. I bet you can get pretty colors with them.

    Thanks for the tips!


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