Hot winter days and fabric dyeing

While we are all desperately hoping for rain, the hot sunny winter days make fabric dyeing a pleasure. We don’t need to create an artificial heated environment for the fabric to batch; we just put the fabric out into the sun to batch.

Batching in the sun
Fabric batching in the hot sun

Hand-dyeing fabric is a complicated, but fun process that takes a couple of days from start to finish. First we wash the fabric, then we soak it in the dye activator and  lastly the liquid dye is added. Our dyes are reactive dyes which use heat as a catalyst between the dye and the fabric. The best source of heat is the hot African sun. For those who know me well, I always mention the advantages of the African sun. There is something special about the sun that shines over the African continent. Yes, it’s the same sun that shines over the rest of the world, but living in Africa makes it special.

However, I digress…. Once the sun has finished working its magic, it’s time to wash the fabric out. This is probably the most time consuming part of the process. We rinse the fabric in cold water until the water runs clear and then we wash the fabric in hot water with Synthrapol (or an African equivalent). Fortunately we have rain tanks full of water so we are able to save water. The challenge is that if it doesn’t rain soon, the water in the tanks won’t last much longer. We then hang out the fabric to dry.. you guessed it .. in the hot African sun. Once dry the fabric is ironed and packaged for delivery or for sale.

Paint brush fabric
Creating a paint brush effect

One thought on “Hot winter days and fabric dyeing

  1. You are definitely a child of Africa. =) It makes me smile, because I’m a child of the Sonora Desert, and I love the sun there. You are so right. It looks like the same sun as Tennessee – sometimes – but it definitely isn’t. LOL I loved seeing the process you go through, thanks! That piece at the end would make a wonderful loose, gauzy dress.


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