Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How to mordant wool fabric

This wall hanging was a "Round Robin" made with my good friends. I hand appliqued the center square (the flowers and lady bugs are from Anita Shacklefords book), then passed the square onto my friend who did the little green boarder and the triangles. Then onto the next friend who added the next boarder and appliqued the leaves and stems and used buttons for the flowers. Then onto another friend who added the little flap and the green boarder and fence. Then onto the last friend (Deb) who embroidery the saying, added the path from the gate, and all the embellishments, silk ribbon, buttons, butterflys, bumblebee, etc. I then hand quilted it while on a trip out west. This was made this quite a few years ago but I still love it and hang it every spring and summer. It reminds me of all my friends. Ok, I thought some of you might like to learn how to mordant your wool fabric and yarns before natural dying them. Mordanting helps the fabric grab the dye better and improve the light and washfastness of most dye colors. After studying quite a few dye books, the amount of mordant called for is always little different, this amount is kind of in the middle. You don't want to use too much or your fabric will be "sticky" and the stickiest will not go away. When Deb and I started dying years ago this is what we came up with and it still works great. This recipe is for 1 pound of wool (weigh your fabric). First soak your wool in cool water and hour or more. While that is soaking fill a large stainless steel or enamel pot with cool water (at least 4 gallons).
Dissolve 2 Tablespoons of cream of tarter (I ordered the tarter from Earth Guild) in boiling water. Add to pot and stir in well. The cream of tarter helps the wool to absorb the alum. I mordant without it with no problem. Next dissolve the 3 Tablespoons of Alum (I order mine from Dharma Trading Co. its not the baking type) in boiling water. Add to the pot and stir well. Add your wet wool, heat to simmering. Simmer for one hour. Stir the wool once in awhile making sure it remains under the water. After 1 hour turn off heat and let set over night. The next day remove the wool and rinse it well in cool water. It is now ready to dye or dry and put away for later. You only have to mordant the fabric once even with overdying. There are other mordants you can use, but I only use alum, it is the safest and when I'm finished with it I dispose of it by dumping it on my holly and rhododendron bushes, any acid loving plant.
Back to my quest for green. I picked some of my ivy leaves from my yard. Simmered them an hour or more, added my fabric and.....

This is what I got. HmmmmmOur woods are full of this type of ferns, so I picked a lot of them and simmered them a long time and added my fabric and this is what I got............
Not green, although it was olive green last night and I resimmered it and let it set overnight again and this is what I got. Maybe I'm over doing some of the greens. In one of my weaving books called Navajo Weaving Way by Noel Bennett she states she tried 117 times over 6 years to get natural green before she found the secret. I tried her secret and it still didn't work for me. I may top her record for green trys.
This is my next house for my "family tree" quilt.It was my mother's childhood home except for a few changes, white house with shutters, shrubs and flower landscaping. I'm drafting it now and getting ready to applique it.


Deb H said...

YIKES! That spider is new! I didn't add that one, it looks too real for me!

Kermit did say it wasn't easy being green. I guess it isn't easy getting that way either!

Nathalie said...

Thankyou sooo much. For my school I am doing a science fair project on which food (beets, blueberries, cherries, or plums) makes the strongest dye. I am going to use wool as my faberic and this helped me alot. i had no clue how to mordant the wool faberic and because of this i am able to have valid results!

Anonymous said...

Black eyed susan gives a soft green. Or overdye indigo over a yellow.Copper mordant gives more green.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo