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Indigo Natural Dye – Ancient craft to sexy modern lingerie

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My friends know that I have a special place in my heart for the sort of craft that is ancient, unforgiving, and extremely time consuming.  I love to spend an entire afternoon baking a loaf of bread from my own sourdough starter, or making baskets from pine needles and straw.  One would think that natural dyeing would be an obvious pastime for me, but I’ve only picked it up recently.  A few of the colors in my lingerie line are now natural dyed, using annatto, achiote, and rattan jyot. Nothing could have prepared me for the adventure of dealing with indigo, however.
For my first attempt, I picked up some natural indigo from my local Indian spice shop, and followed some expert instructions on how to process it into a dye vat.  After some struggling, what I ended up with was a rotting pot of brown goo, that did absolutely nothing when fabric was dipped into it.  I gave up and got what can only be described as… a kit. I am disappointed with myself, but the result was this beautiful vat, dark green with sort of a metallic copper coating on top and an indigo “rose” of bubbles.

Indigo Dye Vat Bubbling

 
When you dip indigo into the vat, it is initally a deep teal green on the cotton until it oxidizes in the air into the recognizable indigo blue color. I wish I could have caught this, but I had my hands in indigo.  You then redip and let oxidize every 10 minutes or so until you get your desired depth of blue.  For me, it took about 4 dips to get this perfect clear blue on my organic cotton/spandex and vintage cotton lace.
 Indigo Dye Cotton drying in the sun at Big Art Labs
I think it turned out especially beautiful on the cotton lace, which I ended up making into this lovely little robe….
Some beautiful thick vintage cotton lace that dyed perfectly
I paired the Indigo spandex cotton with this nude rose lace panel for an adorable little bodysuit

A closeup of our Githa bodysuit in Indigo

 
And made a double layer clean finish back for this little bralette, with crisscross adjustable straps

Back of our Elsie Bralette in Indigo with silk straps

The luminous, slightly variegated blue was an amazing inspiration for my indigo collection, you can see how the colors turned out

you can see the lovely color variations from the indigo here

I’ll probably be doing some more experiments soon, leave a note and let me know if you’ve been trying any natural dyeing, or links if you’ve found any cool projects, Maiwa has been super helpful for me and they also sell supplies or dye for you.
Hazel Indigo panty and bra set, photo by Claire Oring
 
 

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