I am a newbie to Natural dyes I am a newbie to Natural dyes not to dyeing. I would like to do some dyeing of organic cotton. If you would be so kind I have questions. If this is too much, if you would direct me towards your favorite reference books ( I would love references anyways) I would appreciate it. How do Natural dyes do on cotton? I imagine Indigo does fine since Japanese Kimonos are sometimes made from cotton, ( also from silk.) but what about the other Natural dyes? Would organic cotton change the method/mordants from regular cotton? I'm not interested in the cottons which change colors as washed, I'm looking for more vibrant colors. Intended use, I am weaving baby blankets for family members who desire the most natural cloth possible. With their wishes in mind,I want the most beautiful cloth possible:) Thank you Cathie
Cotton (and all other bast fibers) need different dye techniques than protein fibers - this is true for natural as well as synthetic dyestuffs.
One of the better books containing instructions for cotton is Jim Liles "Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing". Dominique Cardon's large book "Natural Dyes" is also a treasure chest of information.
Cotton is cotton in the dyepot. The mordanting of cotton for dyeing is probably more labor intensive - have not done much other than indigo which bonds to the surface of the fiber - but reading indicates that cotton needs more time to be prepared for successful dyeing than protein fiber. Also, the resulting colors are quite different depending on the fiber used.
Mr. Liles describes in detail the process used to get "Turkey Red" on cotton - the length of the process and the steps involved required someone really dedicated to achieving that color hue.
And take it from a man who has tried: turkey red is very difficult. Great fun, to be sure, but very intensive. I ended up with tomato-soup red cloth, an allergic rash on my body, and the desire to ... well, try again!
You might try EZ dye cotton if you don't want to bother with all the mordants. I highly recommend the Liles book as well.
There is a nice article on it in Handwoven from a couple of issues back.
Liles' book is a treasure. I am the kind of person that will try anything just to try it. His indigo section is excellent. Be very careful, though, with anything that involves strong acids if you are not a chemist.
If you would like to achieve brilliant colors on cotton yarns and fabrics using natural dye extracts, I recommend purchasing Michele Wipplinger's "Natural Dye Instruction Booklet." It gives concise and precise information for mordanting and dyeing as well as color formulas. More about Michele, dye extracts, and natural dyeing can be found at Earthues.com.
Maiwa has excellent information about natural dyes on its website--Maiwa.com.