My latest score

Silk bias cut dress dyed with red and yellow onion skins.
Silk bias cut dress dyed with red and yellow onion skins.

One of my favorite materials to dye with onion skins. Red and yellow will both work. Sometimes I use them together. I use a fair amount of onions when cooking and I generally save the skins in a ziplock bag. If I save anything wet (like the ends) I will put them in the freezer. Depending on the amount of fabric you are dyeing you may need to save up quite a bit of dye material.

onion skins*Pro Tip* When I’m grocery shopping and I notice that they are restocking the onions I will usually ask if I can have all the extra skins. They are always happy to give them to me and I end up walking away with a big ‘ol bag of skins! Score! Bonus tip: you can also ask the deli counter if they have any skins to give you. Just please be respectful of the people around you, don’t bother them at the lunch rush and don’t cut in line.

Stay tuned for a lesson on how to use onion skins to beautifully (and permanently) color your textiles.

**UPDATE** Today at the grocery store, I saw that they were restocking the red cabbage, one of my favorite dyes. When they do so they remove all the loose outer leaves. I asked if I could have them for my dyes but after conferring with a colleague, the person I asked said no, they don’t give that away. I was a little taken aback. I’ve never been denied before (though this is the first time I have asked about cabbage.) I have a cold and so I wasn’t in the mood to find out why or to ask if I could buy the trimmings. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

My journey thus far…

Since deciding that I want to have children sometime in the near future, I am trying to remove all chemical products from my life. Call it a cleanse of sorts. I want to set up my hypothetical, future child to have the best chances possible (not to mention, create a healthier environment for Chris, myself and said child to live in).

My journey to clean up my life really officially started about three years ago when I took a class on sustainable design at UC Davis. I already was a big recycler and was already conscious of most of the things I put in my body. My mom and my aunt, Peggy inspired my interest in nutrition; I read nearly ALL ingredient labels before buying new foods. But not until taking this particular class did I realize just how pervasive chemicals are in our lives. It can be overwhelming to think about not to mention downright scary. My list of ingredients to avoid keeps on growing. I’ve found that the best strategy is to just do things the old fashioned way: at home, by hand, from scratch. This means more cooking, gardening, and sewing, which just so happen to be things I love to do.

Silk chiffon dyed with persimmon leaves and pennies.
Silk chiffon dyed with persimmon leaves and pennies.

UC Davis was also where I learned to dye with plants and minerals. We were so lucky to have Sasha Duerr from Permacouture Institute teach a guest lecture in my surface design class. From that moment I was sold; I “drank the Kool-Aid” as my professor put it. I had known for years that I wanted to be a clothing designer but that day helped to cement in my mind that I wanted to design clothing that was as good for the Earth as it was for the wearer.

I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and I have probably bought every book there is on natural dyeing and sustainable fashion. Learning to dye with plants has been one of the most exciting and rewarding things I have done in my life. It feels so good to make something beautiful that is inspired by and made from nature. I hope to be able to share some of that knowledge with you as well as my excitement for eco-fashion. Hopefully you’ll “drink the Kool-Aid” too.