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Natural Dye Baby Kit Instructions Guide

Nature is truly extraordinary, with modern convenience we have at large become significantly disconnected from traditional practices. Skills used for generations due to culture, tradition or necessity. Fortunately we are finally experiencing a textile revolution and we are now embracing nature’s colours!


Some benefits from dyeing with our kits : 

Creativity

Pure enjoyment

Learning to understand nature’s chemistry

Creating a connection to our earth

An environmental perspective

Knowledge

A purpose for time management

Developing an eye and appreciation for attention to detail

Patience 

You will need : 

- An old saucepan (with a lid ) with a steamer is ideal or a rack of some sort the bundled onsie can sit on away from the water while it steams, you can also use this saucepan if large enough for once to move freely for tannin and alum acetate process. Saucepan should be either stainless steel, enamel - unchipped or aluminium. This saucepan can also be used for the tannin and alum acetate process.

- Small bowl/container for mixing

- Bucket

- Stirring spoon or stick

- Rubber gloves optional

- Face mask to use when mixing powders

- Area large enough to lay out onsie to place dye powder and flowers out of the wind.

- Additional fresh flowers you may want to use from your garden.

- Saucepan and container should not be still infuse for food. Op shop or garage sale or old ones no longer used for cooking.

Step 1 - PREPARING YOUR ROMPER OR ONSIE

- Fill a bucket with hot water to soak your onsie in overnight prior to starting to work on it the next day 

Step 2 - TANNINING

For this next stage you can either use your saucepan if large enough or a bucket is good too. Handy if using a bucket good to have something you can cover top with to retain heat as long as possible. 


- Fill your saucepan with the hottest tap water. Put mask on for this process In your small bowl/container add hot tap water, then add your tannin and stir to dissolve. Once dissolved add to saucepan with hot water and stir. Remove mask 

- Wring out as much water as possible from your onsie that has soaked overnight in a bucket and add to your saucepan with dissolved tannin and gently stir to allow tannin to move around and through your onsie. Keep stirring for approx 5 mins and then approx every 10 mins for next hour. Keep lid on in between stirs to keep water warm. Allow to sit in this mixture for at least 2 hours and overnight is even better. 

- When ready to remove wring our and give quick light rinse in cold water. 

- Empty your saucepan and give a quick rinse out then refill with hottest tap water. 

Step 3 - MORDANTING

Put your mask on for this process.


- In your small bowl/container add hot water then add Alum acetate and stir to dissolve. Once dissolved add to saucepan with hot water and stir. Remove mask 

- Wring out as much water from rinsed onsie and add to saucepan with dissolved Alum acetate and repeat process exactly the same as what you did with the tannin. 

- You may want to use rubber gloves here. When ready to remove from the Alum acetate rinse gently in cold water and now you are ready for the fun part! 

Step 4 - DYEING 

We have included 3 different dye powders - Marigold gives golds and yellows, Madder gives reds and mixed with marigold gorgeous burnt oranges and cutch gives soft delicate browns. You can sprinkle a little bit of each or stick to a colour combo you choose, a tiny bit of powder goes a long way. We have also added some dried flowers you might like to sprinkle on as well to see what nature creates for you. 


- Lay out your wet onsie and and add all the colours and flowers you desire, remember to be free of spirit as nature can’t always be controlled and will often take you on her journey with her. 

- Once happy with what you have done roll up your onsie as tightly as you can ( like a sausage ), by doing this the colours will transfer from the front to back to give you an all over colour once completed. Once rolled up tightly use the string to tie around and around your bundle to keep the sausage nice and tight. Remember to keep enough string at the end to tie off tightly when finished. 

- Ready for steaming! 

- Add around 5cm of water in your saucepan, add steamer or rack, then place your wound up onsie on steamer/rack, put lid on saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce to heat to strong simmer and leave for 45 mins. You can turn onsie half way through this time, carefully as steam is hot, use tongs or stick! Keep an eye on the water level too. 

- Once time is up remove lid and allow to cool in pot for a while until cool enough to handle safely. 

- You can now untie your bundle and see what beauty you have created. Spent flowers can go into the compost. Give onsie a good shake to remove any bits and pieces and allow to dry overnight. Next day you can give it a steam iron then a wash in cold water with a bit of mild detergent and rinse until water is clear and dry. 


The wonderful thing about this process is that when you have your next baby you can re dye with flowers and or dye, you will find a list of suitable flowers on our website. You never have to re mordant with tannin or alum acetate, that is a once in a garment lifetime process, done well the first time is good for life. When you think a garment has been ruined with those busy little baby and children stains natural dyeing is a great way to cover them up but look amazing at the same time! 


Visit our Natural Dye Glossary for more information on Cutch, Marigold & Madder.

Step 5 - CARE following Dye Process

Once you remove you fibre/fabric from a dye bath there are several options of what comes next. As with the entire process of natural dyeing this choice derives from experience.


It is best to remove excess dye stuff from your fibre/fabric so a light rinse to achieve this is recommended, a light rinse in cold water with no detergent. 

You can then hang fibre to dry out of direct sunlight. Some dyers like to allow a “curing” stage, that is they like to let the dyed item sit for a few days to rest. After this time you can then wash your dyed item in a neutral ph detergent, some like warm water some like cold water.


Some dyers don’t bother with this “curing” stage and proceed to rinsing with a neutral ph detergent in cold or warm water straight away.


One thing to be aware of is some dyes, such as cutch, can continue oxidising once removed from vat. So if you hang cutch to dry on a line and it hasn’t been spun in a washing machine cycle or wrung out really really well you may find the dye gather at points on your cloth, oxidise and give a variation in your dye result. 


The most important thing to remember is when using a soap/detergent/powder that its ph is neutral, as in 7, or as close to as possible. Know your water sources ph as sometimes old pipes contain copper, boar water is hard, there are many variables. 


Please visit our Care guide for advice on ongoing care of your natural dye cloth.

Health and Safety

It is advised to wear a mask when weighing out and mixing dyes, fine to remove once dye is in liquid form. 

Yes these are natural dyes but for lung health any dust/powder is best kept on the outside of the body!

Rubber gloves are recommended when hands go into water with minerals such as Alum, Alum acetate, Iron, Calcium carbonate, Soda Ash. 

In regard to the disposal of what you will be using it will be safe to empty onto your garden as there will be an exhausted quantity of alum left in the water. All mordant and tannin baths can be reused with a minimal top up so no need to dispose of after each use, exhaust your baths as much as possible. If uncertain when disposing test the PH level, you are aiming for the neutral zone close to 7.