Wash fastness: Eucalyptus leaves on cotton knit

I leaf printed a cotton t shirt on 10 February 2013.  I prepared the fabric with soymilk and dyed using iron and E Scoparia leaves.

Here it is on my office desk after its first trip through the washing machine at 30C and its first trip to my office on my back as I rode to work. The front and the back (with the part that was outermost in the dye bath at the upper mid back):

IMAG0950 IMAG0951

It still smells strongly of eucalyptus when you’re up close (and sweaty), but the smell of soybean is almost gone, or overwhelmed by eucalyptus.  I am thinking I can take a photo of it in the (relatively) controlled light conditions of my office at regular intervals and see what we can notice.  One wash more and the smell of eucalyptus was fading a good deal.

Here it is in May, 12-15 washes later:


I am just not sure about the influence of light on this image… to me as the person wearing the garment, it seems to have changed little except that the part on the upper mid back where the fabric was exposed to the dye bath (and consequently, to  iron) is much lighter.  There’s no doubt the photo looks much less orange, though the leaf prints are still entirely distinct.


Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

6 responses to “Wash fastness: Eucalyptus leaves on cotton knit

  1. Beautiful T shirt. What kind of soap did you use? Here is my experience with a cotton skirt that I dyed with eucalyptus, there was also iron used in it. With each washing in the washing machine with eco store environmentally friendly laundry powder, the whole skirt faded gradually, even the grey bits from iron. This laundry powder is alcaline. So, my conclusion was that for maximum colour fastness, I now only wash in neutral soap. I also have a rust dyed t shirt, same thing. The rust gradually fades after washing, not as fast as the eco printed fabric though. I would be glad to read other people’s experiences about this.


    • I also use eco-friendly detergent, or eco balls with no detergent. In either case the water must be at least a little alkaline. I am interested in other people’s experience too–I was inspired to figure out if there was a way I could test washfastness by a blog post I read months back and this was one thing I thought I could try out. I have an eco print patchwork quilt, but it gets washed much less often! Thanks for sharing the results of your experiments.


  2. Just ran across this post about a “natural dye” business in the US. Thought you might find the way they use madder interesting.


    • This is such a beautiful post! Thanks so much for the link. I have never heard of this method of using madder, and it sounds completely intriguing, though not described in enough detail for me to try it out…!


  3. Beautiful top, I like both colours. I have no experience with euca on cotton, but then every color, even man made washes out.


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