Sun Powered Natural Plant Dye Explorations: ’18

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

I have been spoiled by the Butterfly Tree (Buddleia davidii) dye baths.  They have been easy with good results and  no complications.  The plant dye was absorbed evenly into the material in the tops pictured below even though they were not treated in a soda or alum bath.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Tops dyed with Butterfly Tree

Here is a picture below of a top that was prepared for dyeing ahead of time with soda ash and alum baths.  It is a top sourced second-hand with a fluorescent image that was too bright for my taste.  I wondered how dyeing it would calm it down.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Top after a Butterfly Tree Flower dye bath

It completely calmed the image colours, however the picture is not showing the depth of colour the dyed outcome actually is.  The material itself is patterned and the coloured material from the dye differentiates this pattern.  It dyed the raised pattern  more quickly that is darker of the lower pattern which dyed more slowly.

The ease and colour consistency of the earlier Butterfly Tree flower dye bathes was misleading.  I came away thinking, “Wow, this is easy!”  However I am discovering that not all plant dye baths will have the same outcomes.  This is defiantly a learning experience as I go.

Just below are some sample patches of some exciting new and surprising plant colours.  I am noticing that the plant parts that are making the darker colours I enjoy are actually considered invasive species here in #yyj’s Greater Victoria Region.

pic by Renee Lindstrom

Natural Plant Dyes

In this photo it shows the dye water after two days in the sun and clothes after a day in the sun.  Had I taken the clothes out at this point the second sample from the left would be a light green and the third a bright green.  Both nice colours.  From left to right the plants are:

  1.  Saint John’s Wort – Landscaping scrub variety
  2.  Butterbur Leaves
  3.  Dried Feverfew branch with spent flower cuttings
  4.  Dried Butterfly Tree Flower cuttings

Here are two samples of Feverfew and Saint John’s Wort dye bath samples that were left for in for 3 days.  The Feverfew stayed bright and deepened in colour while the Saint John’s Wort in the photo above is dove grey while now it darken into a stronger colour with black tones.


Had I taken the top out of the Feverfew pot at 2 days it would have been an even and perfect dye absorption.  Unfortunately, I left the clothing in the pot with the plant matter to darken in the sun.  The plant material against the material created dark spots.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Top dyed with Feverfew – spotted after leaving in pot too long with plant material

I can type in the same for the Butterbur plant parts.  This plant is extreme in it colour variations and even having the material bunched up causes differences in the absorption of the colour.

Pic by Renee Lindstrom

Butterbur Plant Dye – clothing left in pot with plant material

I have just learned that when dyeing clothes to soak the plant material in the sun until reaching desire dye colour.  Then filter out the plant material before putting in the articles to dye.   I have come away now understanding that dyeing wool and clothing articles have differences.  Experiential learning!

A oberservation I had that I did not pay attention to at the time, is that when I first put in the clothing to absorb the colour they absorbed colour immediately.  I had my mind-set on slow-colouring and now realize that had I followed a similar pattern of moving the articles through the dye bath evenly the results may have been different.  Next time!

Now I am off to change the steps in my post about Dyeing cotton using Natural Plant Dyes! 

Read more on Natural Dye Plants, Dyeing with Butterfly Tree Parts

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This post may contain Affiliate Links, thank you in advance for your support!  Renee

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