Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dyeing with Sustainable Fabrics, continued

I received some lovely hemp silk fabric this week and have started experimenting with it. This fabric is 60% hemp; 40% silk. Grown without pesticides or herbicides and minimally processed. Semi-bleached with peroxide. No formaldehyde treatment applied. A really interesting fiber that is soft and has a very interesting weave, almost reminds of a shantung weave. It appears that the weft yarn is hemp and the warp yarn is silk.

I started by prewashing it to test for shrinkage. I split a half yard down the middle and washed a piece measuring 29" by 18". After washing, the width was still 29" and it shrank by only about a quarter inch in width. It does fray very easily, so I recommend a gentle cycle machine wash.

I want to try a range of different techniques with this new fabric, to see how it will work with batik, clamped shibori, stitched shibori, and pole bound shibori. Yesterday, I used a tesuji shibori method and dyed it in a black dyebath. This time I did get a wonderful dark, pure black, with lots of grey and white patterning. The patterning is just as nice and crisp as the patterning I achieve with broadcloth cotton. I was worried that the soda ash might ruin the hand of the silk in the blend, but there is very little difference between the dyed and undyed fabric's drape and softness. I did neutralize the fabric in a vinegar bath after the first cold water rinse, just in case. I don't use fabric softener, but I imagine a touch of softener might be useful.


Grey Black Silk Hemp Available for Purchase

A lovely piece I think.  Stay tuned for more experiments soon......

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