Ever since I became pregnant for the first time over 4 years ago, I have been more conscious about what I put into or on my body. Endless hours of research went into skin products, organic food options, and even clothing and baby products (the amount of time and $$ spent on non-toxic play mat research was border-line obsessive). I have made a few big changes, and a few small changes, each year (because let's face it, healthy living is more expensive than not). Every year my New Year's resolution has been to add a little more to these lifestyle changes, not only for us as a family, but for the environment as a whole. I started with skin care changes during my first pregnancy, organic produce purchases for the "dirty dozen", and *some* organic cotton clothing alternatives. Since then we have added reusable straws and cutlery, glass food storage for breastmilk and leftovers, reusable/washable sponges, reusable paper towels, and washable period panties. Now that I have branched into clothing and tie dye, I wanted to find an alternative to commercial chemical dyes. After my father-in-law brought us a crazy amount of avocados, I decided to try out natural dying techniques.
As an art history teacher, years ago, I had attended a workshop on natural dying techniques at The Getty. We learned how to use a variety of natural products to dye paper and fabrics (just like people have done for centuries). It was fascinating and the best workshop I attended there - I was so bummed when they stopped hosing these free workshops for teachers.
I did a lot of research on the process as it relates to clothing, and decided to try it for myself. I loosely followed this tutorial, with a few slight changes. I followed the recipe to make a large or medium t-shirt (which I assumed meant men's), but made 6 cropped tanks. They don't use a lot of fabric, but probably more than a large men's t-shirt. I did complete the optional step, which I believe is what helps the color stay wash after wash. Many dye recipes have the dye sit for only a few hours, but I left this over night.
These are the supplies you need before you start:
White 100% or 50+% cotton garment (I used this).
Alum (you can buy this at grocery stores, but you need a lot, so Amazon is your best bet)
Soda Ash OR Baking Soda (to make your own soda ash)
To make the tie dye, I used the crumble method, where you just scrunch the tank up in a pile or ball, wrap a hair tie/rubber band around it, and drop it in the dye.
The outcome amazed me. I reused the first dye batch immediately, and the colors turned out just as brilliantly. Two washes later, there has not been any color fading.
I now rinse and save my avocado skins and seeds in the freezer in a reusable ziplock bag. You can find and buy the finished product here.
Did you try this? Let me know how it went in the comments!