Last weekend I spent a fascinating morning with Hembra Crafting. indigo dyeing.

Indigo dye is made in a vat, and then pieces of fabric and fleece are added to it. Indigo is one of the most successful dyes known, it is remarkable in the variation of colour, ranging from navy through to pale blue. The vat can be reused, and pieces can be overdyed to deepen the colour. As it produces these lovely blues, instead of the more easily obtained yellows and tans, the plants that produce it were highly prized in the past.  The same blue pigment is also present in woad.

Anyway back to last Saturday. Ann and Caroline had prepared wo vats for us and the were several different pattern options. My favourite is to wrap the fabric around a pole. Tie it regularly with string and push the fabric down against the string. Then dip it gently into the vat. You don’t want to get oxygen into the dye, so do things slowly and smoothly. Try not to drip into the vat either. We also concertinaed  fabric, then placed pegs along the length. Another option was to concertina fabric and tie triangles of card to them. The results were fascinating. You place the white fabric into the vqt, looking at it, there really doesn’t seem to be much happening, then you take it out of the vat, a strange turquoise green. And then the oxygen kicks in and the fabric turns blue!!! If you want a deeper shade, redip.

You would need to do lots of experimenting and keep careful records to be able to repeat a pattern again. But then part of the charm is that you don’t quite know what you are going to get. My next challenge will be to do something with the pieces I have dyed. Some of them are fabrics which I could Nuno felt onto, others can be stitched into. My list of ‘jobs’ for the Christmas holidays is growing!


The results!


The vat is ready.


Concentration. Don’t drip!!


That manky green does turn into blue. Amazing isn’t it??

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