Preparing the Fabric


  • WOF = weight of fiber
  • Scouring: removes wax, pectin, and oils from the fibers/fabric
  • Tannin: used to assist the mordants of cellulose fibers
  • Mordant: metallic salts that facilitate the bonding of the dye to the fiber/fabric

Preparing the fabric (we used 100% cotton fabric):


  • Cut desired portion of fabric and weigh each portion
  • Yarns and fabrics need to be scoured before dyeing (yarns, fibers, and fabrics are always weighed dry before scouring). Scoured items dye more evenly, and the dye penetrates better.
  • Fill a large pot of water so the cloths are covered, not crowded
  • For each 450g (1lb) of goods, add 10ml (2 tsp) of Synthrapol and 20g (4 tsp) of soda ash
  • Simmer for 1 hour

Tannin Process:

  • Measure tannin to the recommended WOF and dissolve in hot water
  • Fill the pot with enough hot water to cover the fibers. Hot water should be 120-140F
  • Add gallnut tannin to hot water
  • Add the scoured, wet fibers
  • Cover the kettle, and allow the fibers to soak for 1-2 hours while stirring it occasionally
  • Remove the fibers from the kettle and gently rinse and wring them. Do not dry the fibers before mordanting them

Mordanting Process:

  • Measure soda ash at 2% WOF, dissolve in hot water and add to the kettle
  • Measure alum at 15% WOF, dissolve in hot water and add to the kettle
  • Add wet fibers that have been treated with tannin to the kettle
  • Fill the kettle with enough hot water to cover the fibers and stir (Water should be 120-140F)
  • Cover the kettle so the mixture stays warm and let it soak for 1-2 hours