FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: Deep blue, long-term dipping and dye pooling

Every week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors.

I have a 2 part question:

My indigo vat was pulling more of a turquoise than a rich blue and I’ve added fructose, henna and calcium hydroxide as you’ve mentioned in another Feedback Friday and it helped but still, after dipping 5 times I still can’t get a deep blue-help! Should I add more indigo?

Dipping for deep color is both multiple dips and how much indigo you have in your vat. For very dark colors, you can dip several times for a long time, as mentioned below. Dip a test strip of fabric (use the same fiber content as your goods so you get an idea of how your piece will dye) for 10 minutes and it comes out light blue, add more indigo stock solution. If it is a medium dark blue, then you can try multiple, long dips to achieve dark blue.

You have also mentioned that to get said deep blue, one should hold it in the vat for up to 30 minutes! Is there some creative way to keep it in there without being physically hunched over that long as I think my back will break-thanks!

You can raise your vat to a more comfortable position, such as on a sturdy platform or table. Position yourself so you are also comfortable. We place stools in front of our large vats and sit for long periods of dipping. If all of these ways are not possible, then try suspending your goods and lowering them into the vat.  You still need to move the piece around but can also take a break without removing the piece from the vat.

I’m noticing that when I dye clothes with pockets, the pockets get darker at the bottom from (I’m sure) the settling of the dyes as they are hung to air dry. Is it just as simple as hanging them upside down to get excess dye out or should I give the pockets a rinse before hanging to dry?

Drain all the excess dye from the garment by turning upside down and then hang to oxidize. If you are still seeing color pooling, then hang upside down first, then rotate the goods so no area gets dye pooling.