Overdyeing, dyeing fabric that already has color or print, can transform cut up clothes and all sorts of mismatched scraps into great fabric for birds and owls and mushrooms.
Let’s start with a natural dye, goldenrod. It’s all over the place on the east coast right now and I’ve always wanted to make dye with it. You can find all the details in this tutorial for the dye experiment , here’s what happened in my rookie effort.
The scraps are cotton and linen, some with prints and several neutral shades. The fabric gets soaked in hot water before going into the dye. I harvested enough flowers to half fill a big stock pot. They were brought to a boil and then simmered for about an hour.
I did not love the smell. It’s not really a bad smell – just kind of a lot. The color was lovely. Following the tutorial I added about a tablespoon of alum (It’s used for canning and found in the spice aisle in the grocery store) to the pot after straining out the plants and before adding the soaked fabric.
After the simmering was done (about an hour) the scraps stayed in the pot while it cooled. The results were an odd yellow perfect for a mini toadstool.
And there is a bird in progress too. There is something about the wash of color over different fabrics that make it feel birdlike and natural. I’ll share the finished bird here soon. I’ve got a few others in progress including blue birds made from fabric overdyed with woad blue (these were done with french general in France this summer).
And these black scraps are for the crow sew-along. They are dyed with black RIT dye. It’s a purpley shade and perfect to mix into the wing fabrics.