Indigo Dyeing Clothing

How to indigo dye clothing | Litterless

The busiest part of moving to a new city might be apartment hunting, or job hunting, or packing, or cleaning, or decluttering, or unpacking, or cleaning again. Or it might be running around your old city in the final few weeks before moving, trying to see as many friends as possible and do everything you talked about wanting to do sometime. Picnic in the park? Squeeze it in. Ducking into your favorite taco place one last time? Necessary. Need one last coffee networking date with your newest pal? Indubitably.

Thus, my last Friday in Chicago I took the train up to a friend's house to finally do our long-awaited dyeing project. We'd both been wanting to try out indigo dyeing, so we pulled together an assortment of white fabrics and a few hours on a rainy Friday afternoon to do the project together in her basement.

Dyeing the fabric is a good way to give old life to things faded or stained. I wanted to refresh some white shirts that had sported various stains for too long, a handkerchief whose green color I'd never liked, and some white fabric I had lying around. My friend Ann dyed a blue rug from her kitchen that had long been faded, some fabric and some clothing, and a handkerchief of her own that she, too, had long disliked.

Indigo dyeing clothing, zero waste style | Litterless

We put together a dye bath and slowly dipped each item over the course of several hours, watching the blue color slowly deepen with each dip. After we finished dyeing each piece to our satisfaction, we washed the fabric with a cup of white vinegar to help set the dye. I washed each piece several more times over the next week or so to make sure the dye wouldn't rub off on light-colored fabrics or furniture.

I'm not an expert on indigo dyeing, but in case it's helpful, I've included some better resources below. What I do know is that stained or faded items are unlikely to be purchased if donated to a secondhand store, so dyeing them in an effort to keep them in circulation in my home and closet made a good low-waste project on a rainy day.

Indigo dye resources:

-A dye kit from A Verb for Keeping Warm (and their book, on my wishlist).
-A recent indigo dye project from Jenny Gordy.
-Refashioning old clothing with indigo on Fairdare.

More low-waste DIY ideas, here.