Natural Indigo Dyeing Process

Meghalaya is one of the seven beautiful states of North-east India, and this is where Muezart- a small Eri silk studio operates.  

Eri silk is revered and loved by all in this state, and we are out on a venture to regenerate our heritage cottage industry- rearing of Eri silkworm and the production of Eri silk fiber.  

We firmly believe that going natural in whatever ways possible is the best way to give back to our mother earth. The cycle of eri silk fiber- from silkworms to cocoons to fiber to yarn are a whole range of natural processes undertaken by the farmers who have imbibed the age-old traditions passed down from one generation to another.

And yes, for natural dyeing methods, we prefer completely organic means like using plants, flowers, roots etc.  

Why We’re Doing It? 

Adapted from an indigo dyeing recipe by Michel Garcia, today we’re going to share an natural indigo dyeing process that we tried and guess what?

It truly worked!  

The Love for Natural Indigo Dye for Fabric

The lustrous blue tones of natural indigo dye are a favorite of many around the world, right? The sheen that this color brings almost adds an aesthetic beauty to anything that it is used for.  

Let us tell you about our amazing experience with natural indigo yarn dyeing process and show you an organic indigo dyeing methods! 

Deying Yarn With Indigo Dyes

Natural Indigo Dyeing Fun

Indigo yarn dyeing process is the most fun natural dye to work with, because it makes you feel like you’re into a science experiment, discovering new facts and also because the color is ethereal!  

But wait, good things don’t come easy, do they?  

It is indeed quite hard to master indigo dyeing- especially when it is all plant based. The natural indigo dyeing process demands undergoing an oxidation process, turning the green leaves into blue!  

However, those who do chemical based dyeing can easily get away with it by using the right chemicals.  

Did you know that indigo belongs to a family of 140 leafy green plants, of which 4 are often used for dyeing?

We used indigo cakes which we got from Tamil Nadu for our experiment. Fresh indigo leaves can be used as well, but that requires a different method which we’ll share with you soon!  

Indigo Strengthens The Fabric

Indigo dye structure has a unique property which makes the fabric last for ages!  

By attaching its molecules to each string of the fabric, it wraps around it like a skin.  

As a consequence, it protects and shields it for a really long time.  

Benefits of Natural Indigo Dye

Other than lending lustre to the tone of the color, indigo also has a handful of skin benefits. 

  • Has a sedative and calming effect on the skin 
  • Some Indian tribes use it to control bleeding. 
  • Extracts of the plants are useful for curing coughs, dermatitis, chest pain.  
  • The Japanese believe that Indigo also acts as a pest control.  

An Organic Indigo Dye Recipe We Tested

Take a close look in the video given below, to know what we experienced in our first attempt at indigo dyeing using an organic recipe.

 

What you see in the video is our third attempt in our first experiment at indigo dyeing. The first two times were some trial and error by us trying to adjust the quantity of the necessary ingredients.  

Ingredients Required For Indigo Dyeing

  1. Banana- 100g 
  2. lime/ calcium hydroxide- 50g 
  3. Indigo powder- 25g 
  4. Water- 7.5l 
  5. Yarn- we dyed 20 skeins of 100g using our 20/2 yarn  

The Complete Method Of Natural Indigo Dyeing

  • Crush the indigo powder if you have an indigo cake 
  • Mash the bananas and boil in water for a few minutes 
  • Filter the juice from the cooked fruits and pour in the vat dye 
  • Add the indigo and lime, stirring gently.  
  • You will see a bronze surface with blue bubbles after 15-20 minutes- if yes, the dye is ready 
  • Check the temperature frequently. If it is low, then heat the liquid till it reaches 50 degrees.  
  • The vat will be ready once the liquid turns greenish yellow.  
  • Turn off the heat. Let the indigo dye cool down.  
  • Dip the yarn and soak it for 15-30 minutes.  
  • Dip and re-dip it twice or thrice if a deeper color is needed 
  • Rinse in cold water and dry in shade.  
  • And now, your yarn is ready to be turned into something amazing!  

So, tell us if this experiment of ours has inspired you to try this out on your own.

Why We Used Banana For Dyeing? 

Bananas help in adjusting the vat. Indigo is insoluble in water and needs a reducing agent like fructose that is found in some fruits. The reducing agent takes the oxygen from the indigo and makes it soluble in water.  

So folks, go try the natural indigo yarn dyeing process and share your fun experiences with us!  


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