Dyeing silk with eucalyptus

dyeing silk with eucalyptus

love the eucalyptus-dyed silk. I have been seeing it around the local markets for a year or so. I have bought garments for Christmas presents for oversees relatives. Recently, my friend Nell turned up at the farmer’s market wearing a silk dress that had been imprinted with eucalyptus. We all asked her how she had done it. Quite simple, really.

I thought I would try it.

How to dye with eucalyptus leaves

1. Use silk or wool. If using another natural fibre like cotton, pre-soak overnight in soy milk, but don’t rinse it out. Just wring it.

2. Lay eucalyptus leaves in the silk. The little heart-shaped silver dollar eucalyptus leaves you buy from the florist create a beautiful burnt orange. Experiment, but the other eucalyptus leaf in my garden made a black imprint. Wrap the silk with leaves around a block of wood or rolling pin, and tie with string.

3. Steam in a basket. I steamed for about two hours.

4. Remove from steamer with tongs, cut string, and shake off leaves. Hang dry in shade {though sun seemed to be fine too.}

5. This little top has the leaf imprint. But it also started as white. I made a dye out of eucalyptus by boiling the silver dollar leaf in a glass jar for about an hour. I then added half a teaspoon of iron sulphate, and mixed. I dipped the silk into the mix briefly (about 30 seconds) then hung the garment on the line.

My husband asked me what the floppy thing was that I was wearing. But I really like it!

Have you ever dyed with eucalyptus? 

A natural dye garden gathering

It all started with Gardening Australia.

One night, at Mum’s, my kids and I were watching Gardening Australia. On the show, a lady demonstrated how to dye fabrics with plants from your garden.

First thing the next morning, Elki wanted to make her own naturally dyed quilt. I am excited to share the whole process with you when the quilt is finished – I think it’s such a lovely project. And it’s turning out so well!

Meanwhile, a few friends started chatting about natural dye, and next thing, there was a spontaneous gathering in my garden. It was the only sunshine-y day of the week, so we were very lucky.

We ate necessary pre-dyeing croissants and home-made chocolate brownie. We drank coffee out of pretty cups. The children jumped on the trampoline.

Lovely Nell spread out her blue blanket in the garden. She laid out the bits and pieces she’s been working on over the years. She had prepared little paper bags of fabrics for each of us to experiment with. She brought her mordants for us to use, and jars of dye she’d make the day before.

We went around the garden gathering leafy and petally specimens. We put colours in jars, and added our fabrics. The more organised amongst us {clearly not me} wrote down the names of the specimen and the fabric type.

After boiling the colours, Nell showed us how to play with mordants. We experimented; changing botanical shades dramatically by adding iron or alum.

Things I learnt about naturally dyeing fabrics with plants

1. dye animal fibres, like silk or wool
2. if dyeing plant fibres like linen or cotton, pre-soak overnight in 1 litre of soy milk
3. you can put fabric and plants in jar at the same time
4. add lemon and salt to strengthen colour
5. put jar or fabric + plants into cold water, and bring to boil {do not put cold jar into hot water or jar will break}
6. boil covered for at least fifteen minutes – longer is better
7. separate colours after straining out plants, and test with 1 teaspoon of iron, chalk or alum
8. always dye in a well-ventilated space
9. use old jars and vessels not intended for cooking food
10. you can wash and dry fabrics as normal if fabrics are pre-soaked, or contain animal protein

Our natural, colourful beauties dried in the sun, and our little hearts were filled with warmth, and rainbow goodness. What wonderful, creative friends I have!


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Linking with Essentially Jess

A little bit of lace

Home days equal more mess, which is why I typically avoid them, at all cost. But the last two days the weather has been lousy, and I have had presents to make. So we have had a stay at home make and bake couple of days, just me and the little one.

Produce include:

1 freshly squeezed juice for vitamins

1 batch of yummy wholesome muffins from the juice pulp

2 sets of singlets, hand-printed and embellished

2 shirts made of vintage pieces left over from my grandma’s sewing days, including her french cotton nighties

2 muslin and cheesecloth scarves, embellished with my grandma’s lace and embroided thingies, including a table-cloth, then dyed in plant dye (1 x red cabbage and 1 x turmeric and tea)

1 batch of rainbow scented play dough

And dinner of course, both evenings!

Phew…no wonder I feel like I have spent the last two days cleaning.

It has been a beautiful time for Elfie and me. Not all kids are like this I think, but she just stands beside me, and helps me, hands me things, looks at things, takes cutlery out then puts it back…If ever I don’t want to her to touch something, I just softly say, “Let’s put that away, hey?” or “Can you hand that to Mummy please?” and she does, without hesitation. She is such a sweetie. Then we read a book, or go for a little walk, or play in the garden for a bit – something for her. Oh, I have loved this time with her.

We are off to San Francisco for two weeks to visit family, thanks to my very kind Dad. So I will see what access is like over there, otherwise, I will be blogging again on my return.

Have you made anything fun lately? What’s been your favourite home day?

Zanni xx