Mending Story: Part 1 Miun's Jacket -Introduction of natural dye (for fabric)

Dear friends,

Do you remember that I organised a mending service giveaway on 28th March 2020?
If you weren't sure what that was, hit mending stories to find out more.

That was a few months ago and have now finally pieced bits of the mending process and will share it with you today. This mending story is a long one, so I decided to split it into 3 posts and update every Thursday starting today.

Noreen a.k.a Miun, happened to be one of the winners in my giveaway event. She is a close friend and an ideal artist to work with. We collaborated in the Second Life Greater Life exhibition last year with a budget of $50sgd for our exhibition works which also include a series of innovative posters with paper scraps as our marketing materials. She is probably one of few who is always open to my crazy suggestions and embraces them like diamonds :)

What was that one item that she wanted to salvage?
It's was a Kimono oversized army green jacket that she bought from Tao Bao, for less than $20sgd. She loved it so much that she decided to purchase 2 of them.  She wore them almost everywhere she goes; to her grocery shopping Don Don Donki; to her live portrait drawing sessions and when she hangs out with her favourite people.

Years have gone by and the colour of the jacket started to fade at the back of the jacket. In addition, there were scratches on the edge of the extra-large studs, which bothers her a lot. Hence, she decided to find a way to give her jacket a new lease of life. 

We were discussing what her expectations were for the final "make-over" jacket? She replied with full trust in me: "It's up to you to do anything with the jacket." I seldom come across a client like Noreen who had 100% faith in me and it meant a lot to me when I was given 100% freedom to do what I want for the make-over without worrying if it met my client's expectations. 

Miun's Jacket mending story will begin from

Mending Story: Part 1  Miun's Jacket -Introduction of natural dye (for fabric) - great for beginners for brief ideas on what to prepare for natural dyeing process
Mending Story: Part 2  Miun's Jacket -Process of natural dyeing - a full process of getting the colour dye right
Mending Story: Part 3  Miun's Jacket -Mending the flaws - fixing the flaws with thread and needle + a surprise element

What is a natural dye?
Found in nature: grass, weed, falling leaves, soil, stone, etc. Use them as a medium to extract their colour pigment through boiling, pounding, soaking, etc.
• My other natural dye projects with dragon fruit and blue pea flower  

Why natural dye?
It is gentle to your skin and harmless to the environment.

Natural dye on fabric
When we dyed on fabric, we want the color to absorb as much as possible from the natural pigment. To prevent the color pigment from repelling from the fabric, mordanting was introduced in the process. Mordant the natural color fixer, served two important purposes, to allow the color pigment to fully absorb on fabric and to prevent color run after the dyeing process.

Preparation for natural dye:
*Do note that this is process is solely customized for Miun's jacket and may differ from project to project. 

Natural fabric (pre-wash)
Earth-friendly detergent or PH level neutral soap for pre-washing your fabric
• Stripping fabric from your choice of fabric for trial/ testing 
• Natural ingredient - Rhus Chinesis Mill, for natural back dye

Iron alum/ mordant (a natural color fixer)
• Tong (to stir and hold the extremely hot fabric)
• Stainless steel pot (no longer to use for food) that will be good enough for your vat
• Stainless steel pot  (no longer to use for food) for potassium alum
• A pair of rubber gloves (to protect your beautiful hands)

• Strainer (to filter the natural ingredients after boiling)
• Thermometer (to maintain the water temperature for natural dye)
• 2 pails, 1 for iron alum, one for vat  (as I am working in a tiny kitchen, I needed extra pails to soak my fabric overnight)

This is my very first experiment using natural dye. The list below might seem like an alien to you, but no worries, I will walk them through with you, one at a time. Natural dyeing process will take 1-3 days from preparation to the final output.

Day 1: Scouring fabric--> brewing mordant--> brewing vat-->  mordanting fabric for 24 hours before dyeing
Day 2: Dyeing fabric--> soak fabric overnight (because I wanted a darker shade)
Day 3: Color dye fix--> mordanting fabric for minimum 1 hour --> wash with lukewarm water --> air dry (not under direct sunlight)

If you want a darker shade, you can repeat the process above.

Other resources to learn about natural dye at home
The chemistry of natural dyes - a great video introducing the beginning to the end process of natural dyeing
The Wild Dyer by Abigal Booth - A book guide for any beginner who wants to learn everything about natural dye and how to turn your natural dyed fabric into a bag, apron and many other handicrafts.
(For those who reside in Singapore, this book is available in the library)

Follow Forest + Found,  Abigal Booth ig account to view her natural inspired artwork

Coming up next Thursday
Part 2. Process of natural dyeing - a full process of getting the colour dye right

Be colorful,