Oh, man. I don’t know if you know about bundle dying or not, but you’re about to get a visual treat created with elements straight from Mother Nature herself.
I first saw bundle-dyed fabric when I covered Etsy’s design contest, appropriately called The Etsies.
And thereupon I learned about ADBBotanical Color and their spotty-colored stupendous textiles.
It wasn’t until recently, when I something else spotty and beautiful, that I realized bundle dying is actually a thing. And you can do it. And so can I. All the world can bundle dye. That was a poem!!
I have a feeling you want to see more bundle-dyed textiles and learn all about how to make them, am I correct?
What is Bundle Dying?
Bundle dying is when you place plant materials onto fabric, roll or fold it up tightly, tie it with string, and steam it to release the colors from the botanicals into the fabric.
Beautiful Bundle-Dyed Creations
These earthy, moody colors remind me of the rich tones of Parisian bistros that I haunted in my youth. Actually I’ve never been to Paris, but that brown is so rich on the silk, and the light bounces off it beautifully.
These silk bundle-dyed ribbons from Feathers and Stone NZ so subtly show random markings from the plant bits that are used to dye them.
She mentions these would be great for styling purposes, and I agree! They photograph beautifully and would be an amazing little accent for product photos.
And more bundle-dyed ribbon. This time from Kellas. The bundly-bit goodness is really prevalent here, and this ribbon would be a pleasure to use on the most perfect gift in the world.
Those frayed edges play up the softness of the ribbon and colors.
Sara from Alkanna Studio in Spain says that her life was changed when she discovered botanical dying. I get goosebumps whenever I hear this sort of sentiment from artists.
And look at these colors – so vibrant but just little splotches of them here and there…
This bundle-dyed mask is lovely, and BONUS it straps around your head instead of your poor ears.
I might rethink my hatred of bodysuits based on this gorgeous bundle dyed yellow number. She also has some really cute bundled baby clothing in her shop.
Ooh! Get your creatively-buzzing mind ready to make something, because Sarah Eichhorn sells bundle-dyed fat quarters.
And masks- I just got one of her solid-dyed masks and it’s wonderful!
How to Bundle Dye Your Own Creations
If you’re sufficiently inspired and ready to try your hand at bundle dying, here’s how you do it.
The Totally Easy Way to Start
Buy a bundle dye kit from adbbotanical color that comes with cute little mystery bags of natural dyestuff, cotton tea towel pre-treated with mordant, and a string. You provide the steamer basket and lidded pot.
The Start-From-Scratch Way to Bundle Dye
These are the basic steps for bundle-dying:
- Wash your fabric
- Mordant your fabric in a pot overnight (soak/simmer/sit)
- Squeeze out extra water and lay fabric out
- Lay natural dyestuffs onto the fabric
- Fold in parts of the fabric and add more dyestuffs
- Keep folding (tightly) and adding then tie the bundle with string
- Steam in a pot on a steamer basket for 2 hours (add more water to pot as needed, and flip your bundle over every 30 minutes.)
- Let bundle sit in closed pot overnight.
- Unwrap bundle, shake out dyestuffs, and rinse fabric
- Let it dry and gently press with iron
Bundle Dying in Depth
Now that you’ve got the basics, here are al the extras for how to bundle dye fabric.
Choose Your Fabric
Use natural fabric: silk, cotton, linen, or wool are all good bets to take the dye well.
Pre-wash the fabric: Make sure you wash it before you dye it to remove any sizing or random mystery grime and prepare it to take the dye.
How to Mordant Fibers
You need to mordant the fabric after you wash it and before you dye it. This simply means preparing your fabric to accept and keep the dyes from fading too much.
I do not have the knowledge of mordant, so I will refer you to this website which should satisfy every little question you may have about how to mordant fabric.
How to Add Dyestuffs and Roll Fabric
- Roll up tightly into a long log, then spiral-roll that up and tie.
- Place dyestuffs on one half of fabric, fold over, place more dyestuffs on top, roll up and tie with string.
- Place dyestuffs on top of spread out fabric, fold parts of the fabric in and lay more dyestuffs on, continue this until it’s all folded up and tie with string.
Steaming Your Bundle
I’ve seen to steam your bundle everywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, and I thiiiiink it comes down to a little experimentation.
I would tend to leave them in longer to get richer colors- make sure you flip the bundles every half hour or so.
Finishing the Process
carefully remove your bundle from the steam pot and unwrap it, shaking and picking out the bits of dyestuff.
Spread the fabric out to let it dry for a day or so, then rinse it thoroughly. Be prepared to lose a little bit of color in the rinsing process.
Extra Bundle Dying Tips and Tricks
- This bundle dye tutorial shows you how to change the ph of the fabric after dying to tint it either pink or green.
- You can learn how to mordant your fabric using vinegar or a copper, aluminum, or iron pot here.
- This post will show you bundle dying wool and silk with plants and food (and she uses alum and cream of Tartar to mordant, plus suggests spraying vinegar on the fabric as you add the dyestuffs.)
- Read up to see which foods and flowers to avoid in bundle dying – Threadborne mentions that Lily of the Valley is poisonous. (This is a great tutorial on bundle dying fabric or paper.)
More Eco Dying Resources
Smitten with bundle dying? It’s so cool. Here are some books and resources to take you even deeper into the eco dye process so you can experiment with dying using natural items.
Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint
The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen and Cotton at Home by Kristin Vejar
The Wild Dyer: A Maker’s Guide to Natural Dyes with Projects to Create and Stitch (learn how to forage for plants, prepare textiles for dyeing, and … from coasters to a patchwork blanket)
Oh my goodness, these natural fabric dying online classes from naturalfabricdyeing.com look awesome.