Day two of adding natural dye colour to an old t-shirt

Reading Time: 4 minutes

So, last time I left you hanging with the image of a t-shirt that had been dunked in tea in preparation for some one on one natural dye action. I can now exclusively reveal that the t-shirt is no longer tea-coloured, it is in fact yellow, and I’m wearing it right now. Not wishing to stroll straight to the punchline though, I will tell the tale slowly and methodically so as to provide an entertaining reading experience.

So, given a good soak in tea was to help the following dye to sit better. I let the shirt dry overnight before going to the next stage. Or rather, going to the shop to buy some ground turmeric. I used about half of this in 2 litres of water in a stainless pot. Going by the book I let it gently boil for a couple of hours, so as to let the colour dissolve in the water.

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Ground turmeric and water simmering on the stove.

Then I put the shirt into the orange and strangely intriguing smelling contents. Over the next couple of hours I made sure I stirred often, attempting to let the dye really get into the fibres. If not stirred there is a risk of the dye collecting in the bottom of the pot and not doing as good a job as it could do.

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This was probably an hour or so into the process. Very encouraging! Much yellowness can be observed.

After the stirring and boiling, the shirt was to sit in the mix overnight to let the dye settle inn. I’ll gave it an occasional stir and once it was cool enough to handle I also turned it inside out and helped things a long. I can’t help it, I’m that impatient.

The next morning I gave it a careful rinse and hun it outside to dry in the sun. And I suspect this is where it went a little bit wrong.

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The front doesn’t look all that bad. A little strange on the shoulder.

When I hung it out, all sodden, the yellow was uniform over the whole shirt. When I brought it in later in the day it was still vividly yellow where the sun hadn’t got to it, but it looks like the sun has done a bit of a bleach job on the outer surfaces. And not very uniformly at that.

Here it is a little stranger. Maybe it looks like some trendy Japanese streetwear designer has had been having inscrutable ideas? Possibly not.

Here it is a little stranger. Maybe it looks like some trendy Japanese streetwear designer has had been having inscrutable ideas? Possibly not.

Was it a waste of time? Heck, I don’t think so. It’s a learning process and I now have one less white t-shirt I can’t wear, and one turmeric yellow t-shirt with a story behind it. It’s still smells a little intriguing as well! No doubt that will wash out though.

Stay tuned for the second attempt. And yes, I’ll order some woad as well.

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