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NATURAL DYE, will the colour fade away?

When my friends and family see the pieces that I dyed using natural colours; they are always sceptical about the colour because they think it will fade away very fast.

So went the question is ask, When using natural dye, will the colour fade away fast? The answer is not simple, is yes and no at the same time.

Let me explain better; the colour-fastness, colour's resistance to fading or running, depends on different factors. This talk about the strongness of the bond between the dyestuff and the fibre.

On my previous post, I explain that mordant is an important step to get long-lasting colours. In this post, I will explain all the different variants that influence the durability of the colour when using natural dyes.

Type of fabric

-The first factor is the type of fabric you are using, natural dyeing only works in natural fabrics, so if you are using a fabric that is not 100% natural, the colour will not bond with the fibre and it will go away after a few washes.

Within the world of natural fabrics, not all the fabric take the colour equally, proteinic fabric tends to take the colour easily and will fade less than cellulose fibres.

Type of Dyestuff and dyes

The second factor is the dyestuff you are using, not all plants have the same tint capacities, some plants are well known and studied for its abilities to produce long-lasting colours, some even have the Latin word tinctoria on their Binomial name, that means: used for dyeing, like indigo tinctoria and chamomile tinctoria.

the dyestuff can be divided into two types, the ones that can be used in substantive dyes and the one used in adjective dyes.

substantives dyes contain a substance call tannin that acts as a natural mordant, bonding the colour with the fibre. like avocado and pomegranate skins

Adjectives dyes are the ones that need help for another substance to bond with the fibre, this helps is call mordant. like Longwood and Mahonia berries.

So using a mordanting agent is important to archive long-lasting colours when using some dyestuff, but I personally recommend to use a mordant agent all the time to create stronger bonds between the fibre and the dye.

Process to dye

I like to say that dyeing with natural colours is a three-step process

-Preparation of the fabric

-Extraction of the colours

-Bath of dyeing

It's better to follow the steps and to give, each one of them, time to act, for example when mordanting the fabric is important to let the fabric overnight so that the fibre can absorb all the mordanting agent in the pot.

Dyeing with natural colours is a long process that requires patience, that let as to live a slower life.

Taking care of the fabric

Fabric dyed with natural colours requires special care, try to wash them by hand with ph neutral soap and to dry them in the shadow.

So as you see the colour-fastness of a natural dye depends on different factors, but if you check all the factors and follow the process, a fabric dye with natural dyes will last a long amount of time

a great example is the 1,700-Year-Old Egyptians sock found on and excavation of the Egyptian city of Antinooupolis.

Child's left-foot sock (British Museum)

The analysis of these socks revealed that they contained seven hues of wool yarn woven together in a meticulous, stripy pattern. Just three natural, plant-based dyes—madder roots for red, woad leaves for blue and weld flowers for yellow—were used to create the different colour combinations featured on the sock, according to Joanne Dyer, lead author of the study.

So to answer the initial question, when using natural colours, will the colours fade away?

No, if we used well-documented dyestuff, use 100% natural fabric and follow the process with patience; the colour may last for a long time,and how knows, maybe even 1,700 years.


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