There are many variations on how to make naturally dyed silk ribbon.
I use hand torn silk ribbon in my bridal bouquets, some I purchase and some I make myself.
In my blog today I will explain how I make pink and peach hand torn silk ribbon that I use for my lovely brides bridal bouquets. The ribbon is so soft and luxurious.
The ribbon can be cut to your desired width which can be used for your own Wedding Bouquets, Invitations, photo styling, brand packaging, gift wrapping, cakes, favour wrapping. and tying napkins etc.
There are 2 different types of silk that I use: Un-dyed Habotai silk 8 (also known as China Silk) which I personally prefer for bouquets because it flutters so beautifully and romantically in the wind; and un-dyed Crepe de Chine which is thicker and more Matt with a very subtle sheen.
The Dyeing Process
1 Prepare the silk
2 Mordanting the silk
3 Dye bath
5 Drying and Finishing
1. You can either dye one section of silk or cut the silk into ribbons first, but I dye in one whole piece first otherwise the ribbons can get very tangled and fray so much more.
First you will need to scour the silk... This means washing it to remove any dressing, oil, dirt, or chemicals.
Wash your silk in a neutral natural detergent.
2. Next mordant the silk. This process helps the dye stick to the silk fibres making the dye colourfast.
Alum Potassium Sulphate powder is a mordant used on silk. Weigh the silk and calculate how much alum you will need. It is 25% of the WOF (Weight Of Fabric) so if your silk weighs 100g then 25g of alum is required.
Dissolve the alum in an old jam jar of boiling water.
Put a large saucepan of water on the hob and bring to a simmer, add the alum solution and stir.
Add your silk fabric and simmer stirring occasionally for an hour. Do not let the temp go above 80 degrees C as it can damage the silk. After an hour take off the heat and let it cool overnight. The mordanted alum silk does not require rinsing once cooled. This can be used wet or dried for later use and re soaked before use.
3. Making A Dye Bath of Avocado skins and stones.
A dye bath made with avocado stones does not require mordanting but I always mordant my silk.
A dye bath made with skins produces a peach colour.
A dye bath made of stones produces a lovely soft pink.
4 ripe Hass Avocados.
Method For Pink Using Stones
Cut the avocados in half and remove the stones.
Wash and scrub the stones throughly removing any fibre that may still be attached.
Add 3 stones to a large pan of water (Use enough water to cover your silk to allow it to move around and swim but don't put silk in yet), bring the water and stones to a simmer (approx 1hr 20mins) until the stones release their colour. Test a small piece of silk in the dye bath to see if you have the colour you like.
Sieve the dye through a coffee filter or muslin to remove any bits that may have come off the stones and return the liquid to the pan.
Place your silk into the dye until you reach the colour that suits. (I found I only needed to soak a few minutes because I wanted a light pink). For a deeper colour soak longer but do not let it sit for too long in one place stir occasionally.
Method for Peach. Using Skins
Remove the insides of the avocado and scrub off any fibres leaving clean skins.
Add the skins and 1 stone to a saucepan of water (enough to cover your fabric and move freely).
Bring to a simmer for approx 2hr 10mins or until you reach the desired colour.
Test a swatch of silk. Then strain the dye through a sieve lined with coffee filters or muslin as above. Return to the saucepan and dip the silk into the dye .
Avocado dye is heat sensitive, boiling will cause the dye to turn brown. Heat to 70-80C only.
4. Take the silk out of the saucepan trying not to wring but squeeze out excess water. Rinse the fabric until water runs clear. Squeeze out the excess water and hang up to dry until slightly damp. (Some people let the silk dry first before washing and rinsing to allow the dye to penetrate further into the silk but I wash and rinse first).
Put your fabric onto a flat area and mark the end with a pencil to the widths of the ribbon you want (I use 7cm). Snip down a little then rip the ribbon into long strips removing loose threads after.
5. Iron on a silk setting and watch it take on a beautiful lustre. Try not t leave the iron in one place for too long. Once completely dry wrap on a piece of card or reel until needed. Keep it in a cardboard box away from the light and moths.
Don't forget to wear gloves when dyeing. Natural dye is unique you cannot rely on the same colour every time. The colour can be determined on the water ph in your area the amount of water and the length of time and amount of fabric in the dye bath. It's a case of having a lovely surprise so dye in one batch because it is unlikely you will ever get the exact shade again.
Alum can be bought in the baking department of a supermarket. Alternatively https://www.georgeweil.com/ sells Alum as well as un-dyed Silk Habotai on his website.
Stones and skin can be kept in a plastic bag in the freezer once prepared and saved for a later date, or until you have enough to dye with.
I usually buy the silk in 5m lengths for bouquets and tear the silk down the centre in order to get two shades from the avocados before I start mordanting. I put the two pieces in the same alum mordant saucepan to save time and energy.
If you wish long eyelash frayed edges of your silk then get a pin and prise out the silk threads until you get the length of eyelash fringe you prefer.
I hope this gives you lots of fun experimenting!