Natural Dyeing With Acacia
Vegan Rose Petal and Pistachio White Chocolate Bark

Pre Mordanting Cotton - Take Two

 IP - Ash Mordant 1

IP - Ash Mordant 2

IP - Ash Mordant 3

IP - Ash Mordant 4

I finally made time to pre mordant my organic cotton scarves. You might remember I had a go a little while ago and got it wrong.

When you're dyeing fabric it's a case of opposites attract. Protein fibres like wool and silk dye beautifully with cellulose materials such as leaves, fruit, bark etc. Cotton on the other hand is a cellulose fibre which means dye from the vegetable matter won't stick to the fabric. You need to coat the surface of the fabric with a protein and then dye it.

India Flint's book, Eco Colour:Botanical Dyes For Beautiful Textiles mentions using alternating layers of ash and soy milk for premordanting cellulose fibres but doesn't give a lot of detail. Luckily there's always the internet! I found a couple of good articles that talk about pre mordanting. One of them suggests scouring the fabric to remove the chemicals which I didn't do because I'm using organic cotton. Interestingly this article mentioned pre-soaking the leaves etc in vinegar water and iron before using on your fabric. The results were pretty impressive.

I ended up combining the techniques from the above sources to create my own pre mordanting process. My basic process was soak the fabric in the mordant solution for 24 hours, line dry it and then cure for a week (or longer if you have time/are patient!). The more layers of ash then soy you do and the longer you cure the fabric the better. 

I'll post the results here once I've dyed the fabric!

A big thank you must go out to the lovely Max for gifting me a big plastic bucket filled with ash from her fire. Thanks Max! 

NOTE: never use your kitchen pots or utensils when you're doing natural dyeing, always use a separate set. Op shops are great places for old pots, bowls, spoons etc.


Ash Mordant

12 scoops ash

3 litres water

Large stainless steel pot or bucket

4 organic cotton scarves


Add the ash to your pot then carefully pour the water on top.

Stir gently.

Rinse scarves with water so that the ash water can penetrate the fibres easily.

Add the wet fabric to the dye pot and then soak for 24 hours. Give it a gentle swish when you can.

Remove the fabric from the pot and wring out the ash water.

Dry on the line, in the sun if possible.

Let cure for a week. I didn't have heaps of time so I only cured mine for 5 days.

The ash turned the scarves from white to a beige sort of colour. It will be interesting to see how the soy milk mordant effects the fabric.

IP - Soy 1

IP - Soy 2

IP - Soy 3

Soy Mordant

1 litre unsweetened soy milk

5 litres water

Large stainless steel pot or bucket

4 organic cotton scarves


Add 1 litre of soy milk and 5 litres of water to your pot. I only used 3 litres this time as I didn't have a lot of fabric.

Wet your fabric and add it to the pot.

Soak for 24 hours. Give it a gentle swish when you can.

Remove the fabric fro the pot and wring out the soy milk.

Dry on the line, in the sun if possible.

Let cure for a week. 



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