Saturday, May 23, 2015

Onion skin dyeing

I first come across the idea of dyeing fabric with onion skins in one of my childhood favourite books, The Endless Steppe: an account of the Siberian exile of the author and her parents during WWII.  One way in which they made their hut there more cheerful was to dye their kitchen curtains with onion skins.  Earlier this year I decided to have a go myself, following these excellent instructions.

Over several months Martin and Sarah saved onion skins for me in order to get enough to largely fill our big preserving pot.

Boiling the skins to make dye

Filtering the skins out of the dye.  This was the most physically challenging part for me as it was hard to hold the muslin bag open at the same time as pouring liquid from the huge pot.

Two tea towels in the rich orange dye.  Isn't it a gorgeous colour?

Tea towels after boiling.  You can see I lost most of the water which led to uneven dyeing.  If I do this again I'll add more water to the dye before boiling.

Rinsing the dye out of the fabric.  I think this was the second rinse and there was still plenty of colour.

Drying the tea towels (and the muslin bag I'd used to separate out the onion skins).

The finished tea towels, complete with embroidered borders.  They turned out a lot more brown than I'd expected.  The dye is a bit uneven, but I'm still pleased with them.

The back side of the tea towels.  You can see that the synthetic labels on the towels (at bottom right) took up much more dye than the cotton fabric!

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