Posts Tagged ‘red cabbage’

At In The Stitch Zone, the weekly embroidery class I run locally (information in the tab at the top) we’re working on a longer project based on my avocado dyed long cloth which I began back in 2011 and am still stitching into on an occasional basis.

Avocado long cloth 1

Time to make up packs of natural dyed fabrics, threads, lace, ribbon etc. for everyone. I found some avocado, red cabbage and walnut dyed fabrics from sessions I’d done before, which was a good start.  I’d only even dyed with red cabbage and a touch of vinegar, so hearing that you could get an amazing range of greens with bicarbonate of soda I decided to experiment. The greens really are gorgeous – especially against some avocado and red cabbage (with vinegar) dyed pieces!


DSCN7529 As I dye everything in the kitchen using my ordinary utensils, I don’t mordant and only use food stuffs as dyes. I know red cabbage is supposed to be fugitive, but some of the pieces I found (admittedly in a drawer) from the last lot of dyeing I did are eight or nine years old and are still a lovely colour.

I also bought some annatto seeds from our local oriental grocer and they were an complete revelation! Bright orange initially with golden yellow as the dye bath became exhausted and they even dyed a piece of nylon lace (which I unfortunately forgot to get a photo of…) No filter needed on these silk samples.


As the annatto seeds are incredibly hard and I didn’t want to stain the coffee grinder bright orange, I crushed some in a pestle and mortar and when that got too difficult, just put the whole lot into the slow cooker to create the dye bath. Then, of course, they were nice and soft, so after I’d done the first lot of dyeing, I whizzed them up in the food processor (didn’t stain it, I’m glad to report!) and got a second dye bath out of the pulverised seeds. A softer golden yellow, but still lovely.


Packs for everyone plus some spares.


They are slowly turning into some gorgeous pieces of work!

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I’m not through with making these little fabric journals yet. I’ve used other people’s dyeing experiments and it occurred to me that I still had some oddments of fabric left that I’d dyed with red cabbage – just about enough for another journal. Silk, top middle and bottom left, lace and some cotton bottom right.

Red cabbage dyed journal 1

I used the silk in the middle (a scrap of overdyed yellow silk dupion) to cover the back, leaving it plain to showcase the tie dyed pattern.

Red cabbage dyed journal 2

I added some of the hand made lace on the right of the top photo to the heavy weight sample of silk satin bottom left. I hadn’t dyed any thread when I did all the fabric (an oversight for which I was kicking myself) but I found some Kates Kloths silk thread in very pale space dyed lilac which was a perfect match for the subtle shades of the red cabbage dyed silk and used it to embellish the lace and the fabric with french knots and running stitches.

Red cabbage dyed journal 3

Then I covered the second board to make the lace piece into the front cover.

Red cabbage dyed journal 4

Two covers done and now the backings to sew on.

Red cabbage dyed journal 5

Some quiet stitching for a snowy night…

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I’m teaching a one day workshop (details still to be finalised) on natural dyeing  using safe dyestuffs  here in the summer. I’d already decided to use the old favourites of onion skins and avocado skins and pits but I wanted another option and yesterday I finally managed to get round to testing out the possibilities of red cabbage.

I researched it on the internet and as recommended in a few places, decided to preboil the fabrics in a 4:1 water vinegar solution before I added the water drained from the cabbage leaves and heated the whole lot up together again.

It definitely does have possibilities!

From left to right: polycotton damask modern napkin, polycotton calico, heavy weight cotton drill, embroidered bridal silk dupion, habotai silk, pale gold silk dupion, lightweight silk, polycotton and a silk satin.

It gives a wonderful depth and richness of colour on silk and cotton and doesn’t really take at all on anything with any sort of manmade fibre.

The silks are fabulous.

As you can see, I did a bit of knotting and rubber banding on some of the pieces to experiment. Classic rubber band up the middle starburst for this one…

…knots for this offcut of pale gold silk dupion…

… and knotted corners and rubber banded middle for this piece of silk habotai.

I  also added some trims to the pot.

From left to right: modern wide lace, vintage pink bias binding – knotted, vintage lace, wide grosgrain ribbon and vintage crocheted lace.

Lovely lavenders and lilacs.

The light wasn’t brilliant this morning when I photographed them. The purples aren’t vibrant – after all, this is natural dyeing – but the colours are much stronger in real life.

Wish I’d dyed some thread too while I was at it!



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