A British Outfit: Cabbage Dyeing

Hello all! I'm back to talking about my dissertation today. After I made my bra, it turned out that I didn't have enough of the dyed fabric for knickers as well. I wasn't overly keen on white knickers so I got the dye pot out again. If I'd anticipated this I would have chucked the fabric in with the wool that I dyed with elderberries over the summer to get a beautiful purple. However, this was not anticipated so I decided to experiment with red cabbage for the foremost reason that it was readily available to me in Morrisons supermarket and also very cheap at 80p per cabbage. I thought that I'd have a hard time finding red cabbage that was specifically labelled as grown in the UK so first looked around all the grocers, market stalls and home food shops. They had no idea where their cabbage was from, and when I got to Morrisons I was pleasantly surprised so find their cabbage labelled 'Lincolnshire red cabbage, grown by George Read'. I've popped a picture below of the final product, and then I'll take you through the process. 


I used the basic recipe for natural dyeing from Seamwork magazine which consisted of simmering the plant matter in a pot to extract the dye for 1 hour. Remove the plant matter, add the fabric which has been pre-soaked in water for 1 hour and simmer for another hour. I ended up simmering the fabric in the dye for 3 hours and left it in the pot overnight so that it would absorb as much dye as possible. I found that it was best to put just enough water in the pot to cover the veg, because the less water there is in there, the stronger the dye will be. 


 This was the cabbage after it had simmered in the pot for an hour and the dye had been extracted from it. I didn't use a mordant for this process, because I'm intrigued as to how well the colour is going to hold up after repeated washing in comparison to the other fabrics that I have dyed with a mordant.


 You can see how the colour of the fabric changes throughout the dyeing process. The first picture is straight after being dunked in the dye, the second after 3 hours of simmering and the 3rd after being left overnight.

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 Below I've included a picture of how the sample (right) and final fabric (left) compare. I used a ratio of 1 cabbage to 15cm square of fabric for the sample and a ratio of 4 cabbages to 40x140cm piece of fabric. It's funny that the final fabric is darker, because there's less cabbage to go around the larger piece of fabric. The sample is also more pink toned.


Thanks for reading! Next time I'll be writing about the making of the knickers.

Lauren xx