We are on a never-ending search for beautiful ways to upcycle, and natural dyes are a process that can breathe life into forgotten textiles.
Another handmade project
In Part One of our Natural Dye Tablecloth project we take cues from this ancient dyeing technique to add a personalised touch to plain linens. Exploring a series of natural dyes that you may already have in the home to create earthen hues to layer in soft, effortless table scapes. In our next post to follow, Part Two will take you through our table styling tips and adding a final, creative touch.
created by us, for you.
For any Natural Dyeing project it is most important to work with a natural fibre as your base, a beautiful cotton, or explore recycled linens just as we have. The options are endless with natural dye, many plants and natural foods can produce the most divine pastel hues. We began our process with some exploration of materials looking at which product would translate to the most beautiful tone.
The three natural dyes we explored were tea, coffee and avocado, testing each on a napkin first before we dyed the larger tablecloth. One thing to be mindful of is that different fabrics will absorb the colour differently, and in addition to this different variants of your dye product may yield different results. So if you have the opportunity to create swatches beforehand this will allow you to play with the dye that works for you tweak the concentration.
There is a sense of finding beauty in the unknown with this process, leaving the end result somewhat to fate is part of the joy.
You will need:
Natural fibre tablecloth
Your preferred dye (we used coffee)
Pre-wash your fabric before you begin and most importantly make sure that you keep the fabric wet. Bring your water to the boil then remove from the heat and add your instant coffee at a ratio of ¼ cup instant coffee for every 2.5 L water. Ensure that there is plenty of room in your vessel for your fabric and ample liquid for the most even result.
Carefully add your fabric into the dye bath and allow it to steep for at least 1 hour or until you achieve the depth of colour you desire. Keep in mind that it will dry a shade or two lighter than it appears when wet. As the fabric soaks remember to regularly stir and agitate the water so that the colour disperses evenly.
Remove the fabric from the dye, then prepare a second bowl with cold water and a dash of vinegar. This will set the dye. Allow it to sit in this for at least 15 minutes before removing and carefully rinsing with cold water.
Hang your fabric to dry as flat as possible to avoid any residual dye catching and pooling on the fabric. If you haven’t achieved the depth of colour you desire you can repeat the process again until you are happier with the tone.
As mentioned above we also explored tea and avocado to dye the linen. Above you will see the results of each (from left to right) the avocado, coffee, tea and the original fabric.
For the avocado dye we boiled 1 avocado seed in 4L of water for 2 hours (in this time the water reduced to about 2.5L) during which time a beautiful deep earthy pink dispersed through the liquid. This time leave the fabric in the liquid overnight before the cool wash. This translated to a gorgeous dusky hue in the final result.
When it came to dyeing with tea, we used 30 black tea bags per 2.5L of water (ensure any tags are first removed). Allow these to steep for about 15 minutes before removing the bags and adding your fabric. We found that the particular tea we had produced quite a strong warm beige tone, although we expect that different variants of tea would translate to different colours - something to be further explored at a later date!
Stay tuned for Part Two of this post coming next week, detailing how we style our Natural Dye Tablecloth with an added personalised detail that we know you will adore.