Dyeing with Red Cabbage


Last autumn, for the first time I obtained a gentle purple colour using Blackberries to dye cotton and wood. Then by applying the iron soup, the colour turned a beautiful dark grey.

Lately I tried red cabbage. The dye vat was a wonderful dark purple and I’ve been very happy with the result. I tried it on cotton fabric and wooden beads. The colour is a purple shade very closed to the Blackberries one. Of course, I wanted to try the iron soup to modify and what a wonderful surprise : Blue !

Blue is a rare colour in the world of plant dye.

blue wooden beads

I mentioned in a previous article that a lot of factor have to be considered when you dye with plants. One of them is the nature of your fibre and I got an obvious evidence here. While the fabrics and beads were drying after their Iron soup bath, the fabric turned greyish whereas the beads kept their colour.

Blue beads and greyish fabric

purple wooden beads and fabric

purple and blue wooden beads

Here is a good example that the recipe and the method can be adapted, improved, transformed. I have in mind 2 tips to obtain again a blue shade that will last on the fabric:

1- I soaked another piece of purple fabric in the Iron soup solution but this time I rinsed it immediately after and repeated the operation. Then I took care to let it dry in the shadow. Once dry the colour is more blue than grey, there is an obvious difference.

greyish and blue fabrics

2- fabrics and beads were mordanted with alum. As I received my order of soya bean, I will try again with this mordant and observe what is happening. This will be for a future article.

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