Natural Dyeing with Osage Orange

various shades of yellow, using Osage Orange natural dye, on cotton and linen

This week, I finally got my hands dirty!  I got out those Osage Orange (natural dye from the Osage orange Tree) wood chips that I’ve had for months and made a natural dye and then in true form, dumped in everything I own that’s white.   I had almost forgotten how magical natural dying is. 

In fact, my wee boy threw in two white t-shirts and in the golden sunshine, with hands on hips, exclaimed “I love my beautiful new shirt.  It’s soooo beautiful.” while gazing lovingly at his shirts drying on the line.  I feel the exactly same way babe, exactly. 

In case you’re curious….here’s my natural dye method.

I very casually simmered the chips in water for an hour and a half and then let them sit covered, overnight.  I strained the chips out and then reheated the dye bath.  In the meantime, I mordant-ed cotton and linen fabric in Alum Acetate. 

I added the cotton and linen (putting in my most “important” pieces first, as they generally soak up most of the dye) in the dye bath and heated for an hour or two.  Who’s counting?  It was sunny and cool and such a lovely day.  

Then I let them sit in the warm water for an hour or two.   While that was happening I re-simmered the wood chips in another pot of water and got a more deep yellow out of them! 

Back to my first dye pot – I squeezed out the extra water/dye, hung my goods to dry and added more cotton/linen to the used dye bath (the original dye bath).  The first batch came out a sunny, bright yellow the second batch gave a pale, golden hue.

Once my goods were dry (it’s thought that if you dry your goods before rinsing, the color stays better), I put some back into the second dye bath to see if I could darken the fabric to a deeper golden yellow.  I heated it for an hour or so and left it covered overnight. 

It came out a bit darker…but I may overdye it with a bit of red to get the color I want.   This is almost always my path.  Dye something, dye it a little more and then overdye it….it’s a multi-step process because I generally have a particular shade in mind that I want to obtain!  

Now, just for fun…I’m re-simmering those same wood chops just to see if I can get more color out of them.

Natural Dyeing is a leisurely, peaceful experiment.   Perfect for a day or two spend milling about the house and yard in the sunshine. 

This morning Ellis immediately put on his yellow shirt and asked if he could have some yellow pants too!  So, I told him a story about a little boy who was dressed in a yellow shirt and pants and when the sun looked down from the sky, it mistook the little boy for a ray of sunshine. 

And then we made waffles for breakfast.  And lest you think our life too idyllic…First we dumped the waffle batter all over the floor.  Then with gorgeous plates of waffles to eat on the porch, he says, “I’m not hungry after all…”  Gah. 

What are you making?

Here’s what that fabric became…a Colette Pattern’s Myrtle Dress.

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