FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

Each week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Here are a handful from this week answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors:

I’ve used henna in a 1-2-3 vat and love it but would like to get darker colors without redipping if possible. Is your recipe for the iron and henna online?

We get very dark colors from henna but it is always through multiple dips.  Do note that henna vats are stronger after several days of “ripening.” Indigo is not structured to create darkest shades through just one dip. Remember that the wet indigo shade normally dries at least 3 shades lighter once it has been washed and dried. 

I was wondering why you use the iron method to dye cotton jersey? I have just tried using the Michele Garcia 1-2-3 method with henna and found it splotchy and a light to medium tone. Have you done tests and found the iron to be the best method and why?

There are lots of vat variations out there. We’ve been the happiest with iron and with henna and get very dark shades with both these methods. Iron is best for cotton as it is too harsh for wool fibers. Tip: Don’t let your fabrics rest on the bottom of the iron indigo vat to avoid unevenness.  

Do you rinse your fibers after mordanting but before dyeing?

In the spirit of water conservation, I do not rinse fibers after mordanting.

How much water do I add to an indigo vat?

Use enough water so your fibers are completely immersed and move freely in the vat.

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