Plant dyeing can be easy and the results can be great. The raw dyeing materials shown beneath are included in do-it-yourselve kits that are developed for dyeing cotton or linen (natural cellulose fibers) and wool or silk (proteine fibers). Two different kits may contain the same dyeing substance (for example catechu, extracted from accacia trees) but the fixative salts used for cellulose fibers are different from those used for proteine fibers. These dyes are meant for dyeing untreated fabrics of one composition, e.g. 100% wool or 100% cotton. We advise against dyeing garments or treated fabrics with it.
Exactly when people started colouring their clothes is impossible to find out, but the tradition reaches back thousands of years. Until synthetic dyes were invented in the nineteenth century, textiles were dyed almost exclusively with dyes obtained from plants.
Synthetic dyeing (provided it is environmentally friendly) has certain advantages: it is more efficient, cheaper, and it does not cost agricultural land. On an aesthetic level, however, the synthetic dyes can’t compete with the vegetable. Vegetable colours are more vibrant and richer. How come? Unlike synthetic dyes, which always consist of only one colouring molecule, vegetable dyes are always the result of the synergy of several colouring substances present in the plant, sometimes even of different chemical groups and (almost) colourless substances. In other words: synthetic dyes have a flatter colour image, while the color of vegetable dyes consists of multiple components, which ensures a richer colour image.
The dyes are unfit for dyeing synthetic fibres or fabrics of a mixed composition.
The picture below shows the results of our own dyeing experiments with these kits.