Though using natural dyes is an age-old way of diversifying our closets, most fashion designers use fabrics that were dyed with chemicals. On face value, natural dyes are a little more expensive, but the adverse health effects of chemical dyes sure do add up, and healthcare ain’t exactly cheap these days, amiright?
And in my day to day life, red wine happens.
One night out, my white flirty pair of Rag & Bone jeans (yes, an old investment piece) took a glass of red wine. Being a classically stubborn stain, I opted to give my jeans a makeover, rather than throwing away a perfectly great pair of denim (which, by the way, requires a lot of water to produce).
Though there are more intensive ways to naturally dye your jeans, I took a quick fix. My goal was to turn my nicely stained white denim into black, but the result was more of a cool slate blue. Below I recorded the process so you, too, could get your Martha Stewart on and get crafty with a fun DIY.
Whatever you do, don’t see a stain as the end, see it as a project!
1. (Above) I used white vinegar to get some of the red wine stain out, then washed the jeans. To start, soak the pre-washed jeans in hot water, as close to boiling without the threat of burning your skin. This opens the fibers.
2. (Above) Soak jeans in tannic acid for about 30 minutes. The tannic acid turns the water and the white denim brown, which will go towards a dark slate blue when you add the iron salts.
3. Here’s a little in between step. Soak jeans in soap to neutralize acid in tannin. This will help the fibers retain the natural dye better.
4. (Above) Immerse the jeans in iron salt solution (what will turn it slate blue) for as long as you want them dark. I did about 3 hours.
The next steps are time but not labor intensive
5. Air dry jeans.
6. Rinse in the kitchen sink by hand.
7. Air dry jeans.
Below is the final color change!
Photos: Jessie Cagliero