Summer Vacations. Summer Projects. Summer Temperatures. Lately, I haven’t been motivated to play outside. I mean, take one step away from air conditioning and you melt! Add in the fact that my summer wardrobe includes an abundance of colors and patterns, and I personally have no interest in becoming what looks like melted art.
Speaking of art and clothes, however, while avoiding the heat, dying and painting shorts and tees can be a perfect indoor activity. Making a mess, while at the same time personalizing a sustainable wardrobe, is my kind of summer fun.
For the DIY details, I reached out to my friend Cara Piazza. A sustainable textile artist, Cara uses an assortment of fruits and vegetables to dye her one-of-a-kind, ethically-sourced fibers. Featured recently in Vogue, Cara’s advice for first-time crafters gives permission to make mistakes.
“Just go for it,” she directs. “Don’t be afraid to mess up, try to source your produce locally, and be aware that although certain [pre-made] dyes are natural, nature can be harmful, too. Do your homework, and make mistakes! I find the pieces that I leave in too long, or mess up essentially, are always the best.”
Below, our expert shares a fun and easy at-home clothing dye recipe utilizing one of my favorite summer fruits – blueberries.
What you need:
2 Pints Organic Blueberries
2 Large Soup Pots
1 Fine Mesh Strainer
1 Potato Masher
1 Organic Cotton Tee
How it’s done:
First, freeze the two pints of blueberries overnight. Then, place the frozen blueberries in a large soup pot and cover with filtered water. Gently boil the mixture (as if you were making a pie filling). If the blueberries need help breaking down, mash them with a potato masher.
Transfer the liquid into another pot, straining out any remaining blueberry solids with a fine mesh strainer. Return to a simmer, adding water if needed to cover the tee you wish to dye. Next, submerge your tee and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Depending on the metal of the pot you use, the resulting color may vary. Once you achieve your desired color, pull out the tee and allow to air dry.
On the other hand, for some, whipping up a batch of homemade fabric dye might not be an option. Maybe your boss won’t appreciate blue hands come Monday morning, or maybe you just don’t have the time or kitchen space. Not to worry – you can still get in on the fun!
In the pre-made category, a few companies offer more eco-friendly fabric paint options than others. Two of these brands, Tulip and Earth Safe Finishes’ Green Musketeers, are non-toxic, water-based, acrylic-free, made in the USA, and free of VOC’s. (What are VOC’s, and why should you care? Check out my Green Buzzword Glossary for more on this and other terms.) While environmentally-friendly paints and dyes certainly aren’t a dime a dozen, it’s worth doing your homework to source those best for the planet and your health. Look sharp, as many products on the market are lax in labeling ingredients.
Once you’ve gathered your paints of choice, let your creativity be your guide (in a well-ventilated room). I unleashed my inner Pollock on a pair of organic cotton shorts.
Most important of all, have fun! If you try either of these fabric crafts yourself, we’d love to see the result. Email us through our Contact Page, or tag us on Facebook, @MyLifeInStellas and @DFWStyleDaily.
Kathryn Knox headshot credit Rochelle Brodin Photography. All additional images credit DFW Style Daily.