DIY NATURAL DYES

I’ve been a fan of Free People for ages, mainly because of their perfectly bohemian aesthetic and super cool warehouse headquarters (thanks instagram for reminding me daily of where I DON’T work). I always tune in for their WednesDIY on the Free People blog, so when they asked me recently if I wanted to guest post for today’s DIY I couldn’t say no – check out the DIY Fishtail Skirt I made for them.
We also thought it would be lovely to feature one of their DIYs here.  Free People blogger Julia (um, best job ever?) did this amazing natural dyes project which I knew you would love. 

I have always wanted to experiment with natural dyes and on a gloomy day in September I decided that it was time. This is such a fun, environmentally friendly project that takes a little bit of time, but very little cash.

There are a number of plants that can be used to make natural dyes, but for my first go-round I chose to use fruits and vegetables that I picked up at a local market.


What I got: red cabbage, lemons, oranges, beets, yellow onions, blackberries, blueberries, spinach.

*It’s important to remember when working with natural dyes that experimentation is key – depending on the amount of ingredients you use and how long you leave a garment in the dye, the color you get can vary.

For pinkish/red dyes:
Beets and blueberries can make a really lovely dusty rose color.


For bluish/purple dyes:
Blackberries and red cabbage can be used to make bluish/purple dyes.  
  
For copper/orange dyes:
I never realized what a beautiful color yellow onions can have! Their skins can make an alluring mustard yellow, coppery color.


For yellow dyes:
Orange and lemon peels can be used to make a soft pale yellow dye. 


For green dyes:
Finally, spinach can be used to make a beautiful shade of green. 
 

Now what?
To make the dye, chop up your ingredients and put them in a pot with twice as much water as ingredients.  Bring the water to a boil and let simmer for an hour.  For deeper colors, you can leave the ingredients in the water (without heat) overnight.
Remove the hard materials from the mixture with a strainer, leaving you with the liquid dye.


The beets were such a beautiful deep red color! I chopped them up and added water and when I started boiling the water turned red almost immediately.

  
For the onions, I peeled off the skins and used only that part – I have seen other examples of this online that yielded really nice results but I was actually doubtful that this would really work.  Turns out I was pleasantly surprised!

I had high hopes for the spinach… if anyone has tried this with spinach and gotten good results let me know what your secret is :)

After bringing each ingredient to a boil, I let them simmer for an hour while I prepared the fabrics to dye.

Before dying, you will also need to create a fixative, which will help your fabric hold the dye.
When working with berries, use a salt fixative – put 1/2 cup of salt in 8 cups of water, put the fabric in and simmer for one hour.
When working with vegetables, use a vinegar fixative – mix one part vinegar and four parts water, add your fabric and simmer for one hour.
When you remove the fabric, rinse in cold water.
The fabric is now ready to dye! 

I put the fabric in the dye and let it sit for a little while – the longer you let it sit, the deeper your shade of color will be. I removed the fabric when I felt like it had reached a nice shade of reddish pink – such a pretty color:
  
I was happiest with the color I got from the onion skins – a beautiful amber that worked so well on the fabric.

  
Wouldn’t it be cool to make friendship bracelets using naturally-dyed string?!


By the next day, the fabric dyed with the beets faded into more of a light pink color, but it was still really pretty! I think next time, though, I would leave the fabric in the dye for longer.  The fabric dyed with onion skins actually held out really well, and I LOVE the color it created. I loved it so much, I tried it out on one of my Free People bras :)


Make sure you have a look around the Free People blog - they have loads of amazing DIYs.

IN MY HANDBAG

The Chronicles of Her recently quizzed me on life, future DIY projects and all manner of other things, so make sure you pop over to check out the interview and pics – which include a yet to be published DIY project (!). Check out the post here
As part of the collaboration, Carmen asked me to take a picture of what’s in my handbag. Never one to say no to turning my tote upside down and letting all the random coins, sand and hair ties fall out, here’s my stash.

+ Iphone with hello kitty phone case. My love of hello kitty started off as a joke but is now becoming an embarrassing reality.
+ Needle and thread – because you never know when you’ll get a chance to do a sneaky DIY. Sometimes I also carry a current DIY (beading etc) to do while I’m on the train or in a cab.
+ Bobby pins – not just two, millions in fact.
+ Business cards and black business card holder – in HK if you don’t have a stash of business cards to hand out at any given moment you may as well be invisible.
+ Kiehl’s ultra facial moisturiser – ‘nuf said.
+ Vintage style notebook – I jot notes like a mad woman.
+ My favourite sunglasses (usually at least 1 pair but sometimes up to 3).
+ Kiehl’s fragrance free lip balm – At the risk of sounding like Kiehl’s paid for his post (honestly they didn’t), I think I finally may have found an accessible alternative to Lucas’ Paw Paw Ointment. Although I usually carry both just in case…
+ Kindle – this has seriously changed my life. You don’t have to carry heavy books with you and always have access to new books. If you love reading you have to get one.
+ One thing I forgot to include in the pics is my MAC bright red lipstick, which is always in my handbag. Perfect for bringing sparkle to a basic outfit when you feel you need it.

What’s in your handbag?

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DIY ON THE RUNWAY – FISHTAIL SKIRTS AT JASON WU SS12

Fishtail or ‘high-low’ skirts have been cropping up everywhere recently, and what’s not to love about this sexy take on the maxi/midi skirt? A number of different ‘ mini at the front, maxi at the back’ styles came down the runway at the recent Jason Wu SS12 show, and they struck me as being extremely easy to make.  These images were the inspiration behind a DIYproject that I’ll be showing you later on this week, so stay tuned.

How amazing is the poofy tiered pink skirt that looks like a wedding cake?
Images: Style.com