Dyeing Clothes with Nature!

Posted on November 2, 2018

This weekend is Green Calgary's Introduction to Natural Dyeing workshop! Our Senior Manager of People and Paper, Christie, is also an instructor at Olds College teaching Fibre Spinning, so she agreed to teach people to dye fabrics the natural way! It's a very interesting workshop that combines chemistry, artistry, and fun! We asked her to tell us about her interest in natural dyeing:

"One of my favourite things about dyeing with nature dyes is being able get more use out of something that would otherwise be waste.  Avocado pits and skins are usually destined for the compost bin, but on their way they can infuse dish towels with peach tones.  Onion skins are likewise headed to the compost, but can brighten up a pair of socks with lovely golden hues.  I have to soak my black beans before cooking them, so I might as well get purples, blues, or even greens from them first, and I can still use the beans for my Meatless Monday!  I love that I can revitalize old textiles; it’s like a new coat of paint for old dish cloths or faded sweaters, extending the lifespan of my wardrobe and household items.

Coaxing colours from natural materials sometimes feels like alchemy – the results will be different every time and are sometimes quite surprising.  The colours you get are not always what you would expect (teal from red cabbage!), which keeps it interesting.  There are a wide range of processes that will get the best results from different dye materials and fabrics (fortunately there is a generous amount of information available through books and the internet to help decipher which process to use with what).  Watching my dark blue black bean dye turn a hunter green when adding washing soda is magical, as is watching indigo go from yellow to blue right before my eyes.

Nature dyes also work best on natural fibres, which means I don’t have to worry that the waste from my clothes will outlive me or be damaging to the earth.  Natural fibres, and the dyes used to colour them, will usually biodegrade within a year."

There you have it! Thanks, Christie!

As of this posting, the dyeing event is nearly full, but if you're interested, you can still take a look for tickets on Eventbrite.

Natural dyeing is a great addition to your array of abilities to reduce your impacts on the environment! It fits in nicely with the Every Action Counts campaign! Find out more at EveryActionCounts.ca, look for the #EveryActionCounts hashtag on social media, and use the hashtag to tell us how you made your actions count! You can find us online on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.