Adventures in Natural Dyeing: Turmeric Dress

Turmeric DressI am a fan of dyeing things, as has probably become evident, but my experience has been limited to RIT dyes, which are great, by the way. But I have been wanting to try dyeing something with turmeric ever since I saw my friend Hena do it so beautifully. I am still not a pro at getting things to take dye evenly, but I am so happy with how this dress came out.

Turmeric DressFor a little trip down memory lane, this is what the dress originally looked like. It was a thrift store find, and I loved wearing it on days when the weather veered north of 75 in Berkeley. I miss this apartment. I do not miss the days before I knew that you should generally keep your head straight in pictures. I wish there were an “edit awkward pose” option in Picasa. Get on it, Google!

Turmeric DressThe process is really simple. Make sure you get the entire garment evenly wet before dyeing. Otherwise it will take the dye in big splotches. From there, it’s basically just boiling turmeric in water with a bit of vinegar, and giving it some good stirring action. Hena will tell you exactly how to do it in her tutorial.

Turmeric DressAfter I dyed my dress, I let it air dry and then washed it by hand. After it dried again, it was ready to wear. Except that I had decided that the halter ties were kind of annoying. They really pulled hard on my neck, so I decided to bring the ties down in an X and stitch them down. I used green thread and went over them several times. Now the dress feels much more secure and comfortable.

Turmeric DressSince we get plenty of days north of 75 here, this dress is getting some good wear.

Turmeric DressAs you can see from this photo, different types of fabric take dye differently. Usually cottons get very bright, while synthetics remain pale. I was really surprised to find the opposite here–the acetate lining turned completely neon. Awesome.

Turmeric DressDyeing things creates its own momentum for me–once I’ve done one thing, everything looks like fair game! Given how well turmeric dyes my countertops when I spill it, I am sure it is more than up to the challenge of refreshing a few more garments.

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