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Raising Awareness – Natural Dyed Fabric Wraps

The main aim of my self-set brief was to raise awareness of the species that I was inspired by for this collection, and their stories. I thought also promoting sustainability would be great for this reason, the idea of fabric wraps is interesting because it could be found fabrics, from charity shops etc. Finding fabrics and reusing them is much more sustainable than buying new, and I think the problem with digital fabric printing is that is has to be this new fabric bought from a company for them to print on, it is not something that you can do at home, or even Uni with the broken printer, or maybe found fabric could have been tried for use on that one.

So I think if it was the case that I have to use new fabrics for my products, at least I could think of sustainable uses for my packaging. A fabric wrap could also be a nice way to finish the parcel off, and another idea could be to maybe include instructions on how the person buying the product could then reuse the fabric wrap themselves, to make it into a little gift for themselves or something. I think this idea would only really work for products in a shop or something, anything sent in the post will be harder to do that with as it would definitely need some boxes or plastic to keep it safe.

I thought I would try out the fabric wrap idea anyway, as it could be a nice extra and useful if I ever got products into a shop. I thought about natural dyeing next, to customise the found fabrics. I found some chiffon type material and decided this could work well with its floaty nature. I looked into natural dyeing a bit, I looked back in my technical file as I have done this before, and found blackberry dye.

Mashing the blackberries

I put the blackberries on to boil and gently mashed them to bring the colour out of them, this was fairly instant and came out well in the water. I left it to simmer for about half an hour on the rayburn, which kept it at a good medium temperature.

I used a built in colander pot for this, and actually as the water boiled, the berries were breaking down more and more, so the little bits did start going through the gaps, I think I should have run it through a much smaller holed sieve or something to ensure these bits were removed as they did end up sticking on the fabrics.

I put a piece of the chiffon into the pink and left it overnight to really soak in, I also had a green Dylon dye from trying out some patterns before, so I put some in here as well and also left this overnight. I took the pink out the next day, probably left it for a good 14-16 hours as it was still looking quite light. I hung it on the line and as it dried I was surprised it actually got darker as it dried and looked really good.

I thought the final colour was actually really nice, it came out very even. I left the fabric in the green synthetic dye even longer and when I hung this out, all the colour just dropped out from it, so this was unsuccessful.

I next thought to make it more interesting I could try some tie-dyeing with this fabric and also some other found fabrics, even liners from curtains or spare bedding, it sometimes had interesting textures on it.

I left these in the dye overnight and decided to dry them out. I actually went away for the weekend at this point so they were left for a few days but they were properly dried out.

Oddly, the same chiffon fabric here did not hold the colour when it was put into a variety of tie dye ties. The other thicker fabric works well, it kept the colour and it also shows the tie dye effects, this does not show on the chiffon at all, as the colour just didnt come through. The plain dyed sample was great though so I thought I would try this to wrap up a few things.

So these worked out quite nicely here, and I think it could be a nice touch as a gifting service, but I do not think doing this to every product and then putting it in a box to send anyway is any good as it could just be a waste of fabric, unless it was used to make something that could perhaps help species in the garden. Although this leads into my idea about using bird seeds and other things to encourage life in the garden, and use it as an actual tag for the products, so this will definitely be something I experiment into next.

Overall, I think this was a good experiment and shows me what could and couldnt work in the future. As for raising awareness, it does not do much in terms of promoting the individual four animals that I am looking at, but promoting the idea of sustainable packaging and fabrics could be very useful. I think continuing to look into raising awareness through the packaging is something that could work well, so I will continue to explore that both physically and digitally.