While the sun was shining last weekend I started to prune my apple trees, the leaves were stripped off and put in my large catering pot to make some dye. According to my books they should yield a nice bright yellow green dye with an alum mordant.
The pot simmered away, giving an apple / cabbage smell to the house which wasn’t unpleasant. The liquid turned a golden yellow colour.
After straining out the leaves the mordanted apron went into the pot and was boiled for over an hour. It was rinsed and hung out to dry.
The colour was a nice golden yellow, not green at all, sorry I forgot to get a photo.
The next day I dyed the other apron with a turquoise dye, then I gathered my printing leaves choosing ones I know print well, geranium and cotinus, rose and wild strawberry. I used an iron dip on the leaves and some vinegar on the fabric. The fabric was just damp, as I have been told this helps in achieving clear prints.
I thought the best way to position the leaves would be to turn the apron inside out, lift the flaps, place the leaves then fold over the flap, then repeat on the other side. I added some onion skins too.
The apron was folded and folded again, bundled and tied ready for steaming in the fish kettle. (Sorry no photo)
Once my bundles were cold they were untied and unrolled.
The leaves were picked off , the aprons were washed. Sadly the turquoise dye washed out as it doesn’t work on cellulose fibres, but I had forgotten that as I’m used to working with silk. I have to say I was slightly underwhelmed by the leaf prints, and I may have gone overboard on the onion skins. One of the things you have to accept with eco printing is the serendipitous nature of the process, but I like surprises. Cotton is supposed to be the hardest fabric to eco print on, but I have had some great results on cotton blankets used when dyeing silk scarves so I had hoped for better results, more well defined leaf prints.
Once ironed I think I like them more.
The apricot colour is stronger than it’s showing on my monitor, it is a pretty colour.
I had planned to hang them on the apple trees to photograph them, but the weather is so bad I had to photograph them indoors.
What constantly amazes me with eco printing are the variations, these two had the same fabric, mordant, leaves, onion skins, and steamed together and yet some onion skins have printed green on this apron but not on the other one.
There are some areas that I really like on both aprons, and I love the apricot colour from the apple leaf dye, I think the onion skins modified the colour slightly.
My daughter loves them and thinks they would make great tops for festival going.
I dyed a couple of pieces of fabric that could be used for pockets, I was undecided whether to add a front pocket but I think it would be very useful on an apron, don’t you ?