Welcome Back Sewing Friends!
This week we are trying out an experiment with natural dyeing. I haven't really died fabric in years, and I've never been hands on in dyeing with natural fibers. I chatted with some friends who have worked with natural dyes and started saving onion skins from my cooking for a year. While cleaning up my sewing room after the holidays I cam across another stash of yellow onion skins and decided I had enough skins to try making a dye pot.
I started this project my soaking my silk veil I wanted to dye in a mordant bath of alum while I started cooking onion skins. Mordants are a dye fixative to keep your fabric from loosing color after the dye process. My research said to use a mineral mordant, such as pickling alum, when trying to dye vegetable and protein based fibers. I didn't time this process and went more based on description and experimentation. The onions skins cooked in a crock pot I found at the thrift store last year while I was stating to passively research this project. It took a while this way and reminded me of making an onion tea. The kitchen did smell a bit like French onion soup while I was working on this dye pot. It felt like it took forever to do this project because I was waiting on the onion skins to turn translucent. Taking them out too soon is a waste and will produce a weaker color. Eventually the color was perfect so I rinsed out my veil and hung it up to dry in my shower over night.
Why am I dyeing my silk veil a golden yellow? While I was reading about mourning clothing from 1590's in Italy I found this reference to Roman widows wearing a golden shawl under their black veils. In the same book I found references to women dressing as widows to be discreet. Falling even farther down this connection rabbit hole, there are French and German books of fashion that don't fully seem to know the difference between these two types of women in Italy. After reading all of this I decided I wanted a black dress to explore these interesting connotations more. Making this veil is the first step in that process.
web resource for natural dyeing: http://www.allnaturaldyeing.com/
Fiber Enchantress: https://youtube.com/channel/UCJxlFdasIk5Z9qiD_NAnYJQ
Dharma Trading Company for Silk Veils and Modern Silk Painting Supplies: https://www.dharmatrading.com/
For more reading on 1590s Italian fashions pick up Cesare Vecellio's Habiti Antichi et Moderni.
Bisou Bisou, Isabelle