Want a unique way to use up all that garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) you've been pulling up? How about creating some neat tye-dyed t-shirts using a dye made from your chopped up invasive plants? Marc Imlay, from the Maryland Native Plant Society, has generously given me permission to post his "recipe" below.
- Gather plant material for dyeing.
- To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain.
- Getting the fabric ready for the dye bath: Muslin, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes. You will have to soak the fabric in a color fixative before the dye process. This will make the color set in the fabric.
- Soak fabric 40 minutes in warm water.
- Pre-mordant one hour with aluminum potassium sulfate (alum). Divide the weight of the material to dye by four and weigh out that much alum mordant. Add the fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour (180 - 200 degrees F).
- Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.
- Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. Dye one hour (simmer) stirring occasionally for evenness of color.
More information about using plants to make natural dyes can be found here.