Eco-Dyeing: Chapter Two

Four versions of iris dye.

As I promised in an earlier post, I have more goodies to share in the great eco-dying experiment.

It would have been handy if I had actually kept notes about what I was doing. Although at the time I didn’t think I would be doing many pieces, and I figured I would be able to remember how each piece was done. But as each fabric was more interesting when I unwrapped it, I just kept trying new flowers, new techniques, different fabrics.

The flower I’ve found most interesting is the deepest dark purple iris growing in my yard. I have tried using flowers with vinegar, vinegar and heat, soy milk; waited 24 hours, 36 hours, a week; scrunched the flowers, wrapped them tight, put rubber bands around them, and pounded the bundles with a hammer. Some of the bundles I zapped in the microwave, others I set out in the sun in a plastic bag, and yet other bundles just sat on the rocks in the sun.


Clockwise from top left. Pounded peony, pounded light iris and yellow daylily, purple and yellow iris, violet rose.
Close-up of tortured fabric.

I have used other colors of iris and yellow daylilies from my neighbors. The daylily produced a nice yellow, but the yellow iris was pretty subtle. I had better luck with the deep pink peonies from my yard, especially with the pounding. Some of the pounded bundles were in a thinner fabric and didn’t hold up to the beating. If there’s ever a tortured fiber exhibit, I’ll have all the fabric needed to create multiple entries.

My last experiment was with the lavender, or as my young neighbor called it purpley-pink, rose. I pounded and then let it sit for a few days. There were interesting blues and pinks until I gave it a rinse; now it is mostly browns and pinks.


Three layers of pounded peony.

What has been the most fun is the element of surprise. Even if I tried to duplicate a piece of dyed fabric, it would be impossible. The last of the irises are going into the freezer so that I will have them to play with later. Maybe I’ll mix them with my daylilies when they start blooming.

As I pack for an upcoming road trip, I am throwing in fabric presoaked in soy milk. You never know what I might find out on the road or at the lake house just begging to be bundled up.