Process: Dyeing with Onion Skin

We are passionate about moving towards using as many botanical dyes as we can, so for SS17 we've developed a pale pink color using onion skin. Read on to learn about this simple process. It's easy and we encourage you to give it a try. 

 

First, we collect excess dry onion skins from markets around Accra, where they would otherwise be discarded. Using an otherwise waste material is a real advantage, as no food crop farm land has to be converted to dye crop farm land to make this color. Natural dyeing is often assumed to be better for the environment, but we have to be careful to think holistically about what the effects of a widespread use of them would be, on water systems, food systems and beyond.

We use the skins of both white and red onions. 

The first step is to boil the dry skins for several hours, pulling all the color out of them.  It is possible to do this for too long, and to start to lose the strength of the dye.

Now we are ready to submerge the "ready for dye" fabric (i.e. fabric that has been scoured clean so that it can evenly absorb the dye material) in the dye bath. We let it sit in the bath for a few more hours, stirring often. 

 

When time is up we rinse the fabric in cool water until the water runs clear, and hang to dry.

 

And voila!

From the finished Onion Skin yardage we are now making tops and dresses, including the Sola Panel Dress (below) in raw silk. 

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