Coffee+Ivy Dye

Saturday I went to a wonderful thing called a sweater swap. Can I tell you how fun it is to bring out all the misfitting clothes from my closet and come back with two bags full of free new clothes! Brilliant. (It helps to have friends whose clothes I want!)

Among other things, I brought home a pink and white seersucker dress, very similar in color to the ruffle dress I already had. I thought that dying it might make it different enough to not be redundant in my closet.

After a little research I learned that to get the brown dye I was looking for, boiling oak tree bark, acorns, walnut husks, dandelion roots, fennel, juniper berries, ivy, and coffee grounds, will all do the job. The only thing I had in mass quantities was ivy. Who knew that was useful for anything?

I found conflicting information about what part of the ivy to use – twigs, leaves, or berries… so I snipped some of each and threw them in the pot.

Meanwhile, I soaked the dress (its 100% cotton, which is important for dyeing) in a mix of 4 parts water 1 part vinegar

I simmered this for 1 hour, then took it out, rinsed it out, wrung it out, and put it in the drained ivy-water-pot, which had also cooked for an hour. Although I was interested in being a purist and really seeing what this natural ivy-dye could do, I also wanted a tinted dress at the end of the day. And the ivy-dye didn’t seem to be working at the speed I was interested in. So I moved down the list of natural dyes, and found some coffee grounds. I tossed about 1 half cup of grounds into the pot, and boiled for another hour.

After this I pulled out the dress, rinsed it off, dried it, and would you believe it, it was tinted with a nice subtle khaki.

I’m really interested in this whole “dyeing with whats growing in the yard” thing, and plan to do some experimenting. Sounds to me like more sweater swaps are in order.

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3 responses to “Coffee+Ivy Dye

  1. Would be nice to hear if your coffee and ivy dye holds up through future washes! I’d love to do some natural dying for wool, but I live in the city with a tiny yard. Not much growing here but dandelions. 🙂

    • You know what’s interesting, I hear that dandelions roots make a beautiful reddish brown dye, and the flowers make a yellow dye. I wish I had dandelions growing here so I could try it out! That would be good motivation for weeding, right?

  2. I think I had heard that the flowers can be used, but I didn’t know about the roots.

    You’ve inspired me! On my blog I’m following my progress in taking dirty, raw wool to spun yarn. I’m just about ready for the dying (dyeing?) stage, so I think it’s time to go “lion hunting.”

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