As much as I enjoy obtaining refined and unique marks from the plant material on fabric I cannot but brood over the Wash Fastness aspect, especially when it comes to wearables.
The common advice that can be most often found regarding washing and caring for naturally dyed textiles, is to hand wash it in cold water, or use a gentle cycle in the washing machine.
In my practice with natural dyestuffs I tend to meticulously run my own experiments to see how the same recipe/regularity works for me. Well, the moment I got my very first satisfying dyed pattern on a wearable item I immediately put on considering cap:
How long a garment treated with the natural dyes will serve before the increasing color fading from the multiple washes finally gives it an unappealing look?
Provided, of course, that the garment has been properly treated with mordants, as well as that the dyeing process has been carried out aptly.
For the silk accessories and such, the washing matter does not look as much uncertain as for the sportswear for instance.
I really would have doubts as for a jersey T-shirt and a gentle washing cycle… Well, maybe I am just too lazy to consider a hand-wash, or is it just that I know that you cannot give a quality wash to a jersey T-shirt without presoaking it, which will definitely affect the natural dyes. So, why not give a try to a conventional washing then?
Still wearing the same considering cap, I got a dyed jersey shirt:
I decided to wear it on a regular basis from the moment I finished working on it last September, and throw it into the washing machine with the rest of my light-colored laundry; I used my usual detergent, Persil most of the time, for cotton fabrics.
These are some close-ups of the shirt pattern right after dyeing:
And now after three months and 15 to 18 washes, this is what I end up with at this moment:
Not sure how much obvious it really is from the pics, but the background color retains its corn-colored hue; while the bluish marks from the tannins have shifted towards brown color, as the result of their exposure to the high Ph of the washing powder.
Well, at this point my shirt still works for me. Which is fine. I’ll keep my further records on the gradual color shift and/or loosing color of this item.
Determining the point when the T-shirt starts looking toneless will surely give the better idea about the general shelf-life of my naturally-dyed clothes, which is essential info to be labeled on my naturally dyed collection.
So, dear colleagues, and what advice do you label your naturally dyed wearables with?