Hello Sunshine! I have been wanting to try turmeric dyeing for a while now. Some of the examples that I have seen online are really beautiful. Much like the spice itself, the yellow is super saturated and gorgeous like bright golden sunshine! I love saturated colors so this is right up my alley. I figured that a pillow case would be a good starting point. To add a design element I will be doing a stitch resist shibori technique.
- silk pillow case – animal or protein fibers such as silk and wool will dye brighter than plant based fibers such as cotton or hemp, but any natural fiber will work
- something round – I’m using a ceramic plate
- washable marker or a vanishing fabric marker
- artificial sinew, embroidery floss, or dental floss
- large pot – a dedicated dye pot is recommended
- 8 cups of water
- 4 heaping tablespoons of turmeric – I bought a jar at Trader Joes for $1.99
- 1 heaping tablespoon of alum – this is a mordant or fixative, I buy mine here
Step 1: Create a simple design on your fabric. I traced around a plate with a washable marker
Step 2: Stitch around your circle as shown below. I’m using artificial sinew because it is waterproof and I’m hoping it will give me nice clean lines. Make certain that your sinew (or whatever) is long enough to go around your circle and that you are left with a long tail (this will make more sense in a minute). In order to accommodate the sinew, I’m using a largish embroidery needle. If you do the same, you will notice that the needle will make small holes in your fabric. Don’t freak out, it will be fine as long as you’re okay with the holes. 🙂 If you are not okay with them then use a smaller needle and dental floss or embroidery floss. I’m going through both layers of the pillow case at once but you could certainly limit your stitching to the top layer if you want the back of your pillow to be a solid color. I’m also weaving the needle through multiple times with each pass (which makes this process go so much faster!).
Step 3: Now pull your sinew tightly making sure to pull the fabric in the center of your circle straight up.
Step 4: Take your tail (the one you left earlier) and bind the center of your circle with your sinew. I want a lot of white so I’m binding quite a bit of the fabric. I would also like a solid colored circle in the center so I’m leaving a bit of fabric at the top.
Step 5: Put four cups of water into your pot with one heaping tablespoon of alum and four heaping tablespoons of turmeric. Turn your heat to high and give your powders a few minutes to dissolve.
Step 6: Wet your fabric (wet fabric accepts dye more evenly) and put it in your pot. Bring to a simmer and turn your heat down. For a nice medium yellow set your timer for one hour.
Step 7: Once you are happy with the color of your fabric take it out, give it a rinse, untie your sinew, rinse again until your water runs clear and let it air dry. Iron to get out any wrinkles and to increase the colorfastness of your fabric.
I wanted my color to be really saturated so after one hour was up, I turned off the heat and let it sit for about four hours.
Please note that turmeric can be a fugitive dye meaning that it may fade over time and/or with exposure to the sun. The alum and the heat setting will help to prevent this from happening. Additionally, protein fibers like silk and wool accept the dye more readily and are more colorfast than plant based fibers.
Here’s the finished product. The yellow is SO gorgeous and happy! The dye pot is calling me to throw something else in…perhaps a scarf this time?
If you would rather buy than DIY go here.