Wednesday 26 August 2009


One of the latest dyestuffs for us to try out was blackberry. Until recently, our knowledge and experience of natural dyeing was basically limited to plants and fruits native to Nepal. This time we only had to travel as far as 100 metres to collect the wild blackberries needed for our dyebath.

Compared to all over dyestuffs, blackberry was by far the most pleasant to work with. This is largely down to the fine sweet fruity smell. Boiling up nettles or some of the Nepali woods produces a strong odour that, although not foul, isn't exactly kind on the senses.

Maybe we collected and boiled too many blackberries or maybe the natural colouring is very strong, either way we managed to produce some strong colours on a few garments before the dyebath lost its power. As per usual, we used alum as a mordant and went through the normal procedures for making the dye. One note of interest is the change of colour that takes place between the fabric being removed from the pan and it having been thoroughly rinsed and ready to dry. The photographs should illustrate this change, which I believe to be caused by oxidisation. I will have to do a little reading up in order to confirm the cause of this colour change. I have experienced greens turn to blues during woad dyeing, which is definitely the result of oxygen reacting with the indigo pigment.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Tuesday 25 August 2009


We had long known that nettles can be used for natural dyeing to produce soft shades of yellow, but we had never tried it... until now!
Our target was, as usual, silk shawls. The silk shawls were mordanted with alum in the usual way (although cream of tartar was also added for the first shawl.)
From the photos you will see the process from start to the finished shawls. I have to admit that this was probably the first natural dyestuff that didn't smell so nice when boiling away in the large pan. Blackberries will win the award for sweetest smelling dyestuff!
I selected nettle leaves and stalks as it was easier than picking just the leaves. I am not so sure of what, if any, differences there would have been if we had selected just the leaves.
The resulting colour was not as pleasing as I had expected, but it certainly offers us range of soft tones. There really isn't much else to report as I believe the photos will explain far more details of our experiment.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Tuesday 18 August 2009


The 16th August saw the annual LONDON MELA held at Gunnersbury Park in Ealing.
It is a celebration of South Asian culture with different stages showcasing contemporary, classical and new music. Many of the food and craft stalls were of a South Asian theme, but amongst the crowd, a broader mix of international customers were to be found on this sunny Sunday.
This was a free event within walking distance for many, so it was very much a family affair.

Monday 17 August 2009


Dyeing with red cabbage produced a pleasing result. I found that blending the cabbage up in a mixer made it a lot easier to extract the pigment "anthocyanin" from its leaves.

This vegetable's natural colouring is used for food dyes, so I was expecting a strong colour on silk.

The changes in colour at the various stages was quite interesting.
The blended cabbage had been boiled, left to soak overnight then boiled two more times. This left the cabbage a pale blue with the dyebath a strong lilac.

It is best not to expose silk to high temperatures, so the mordanted silk shawls were lowered into a cool dyebath. Making sure they had plenty of room to move freely whilst totally submerged, It started to gently heat the dye bath.

I continued heating until I had reached the desired depth of colour and then rinsed the shawls in a solution of water and "ritha" also known as soapnut. Once dry, a second rinse was done just to make sure that all excess colour had been removed.

The silk shawls had been mordanted in alum some weeks earlier, so it was also interesting to discover that it causes no harm to have a lengthy period of time between mordanting and dyeing.

It is with this dyestuff that I wish to try BATIK on a 55% hemp 45% organic cotton material. I think this dye is strong enough to give cotton a smooth colour, (especially if dyestuff quantity is doubled!)

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Thursday 13 August 2009


It was with great interest that we tried using a new dyestuff. Beetroot is a very common product and, unlike most of our dyestuffs, is readily available from any supermarket.
Dyeing silk shawls requires less heat in the dyebath compared to other fabrics. Boiling up the beetroot and filtering was done in the same way as all our other colours (except indigo!), the mordanting of the silk shawls was also done the same way as usual.
Once the dyebath has been prepared and allowed to cool, the shawls are carefully lowered into the bath. This is then slowly heated until a mild simmering occurs. The shawls are now ready to be taken out and rinsed 2 or 3 times.
We were pleased with the resulting colour. (Next time we will try using red cabbage!)

Natural clothing, bags and so on...

Friday 7 August 2009


At last our sorazora online store is now live.
We are very sorry for the delay, as we know many people have been asking us when it will go live online.
At present we have uploaded bags, hats, materials and accessories. There are many more things to follow and will be trying to upload a little more each day. Please do keep checking back if you are waiting for anything in particular.
For all those who have tried to access our store in the last couple of months, We do apologise for the long wait and hope that you will check back again soon.
If anyone would like to come and visit us, we will be opening our store at the London Mela which is held at Gunnersbury Park in Ealing, London on Sunday 16th August.

We look forward to seeing you!

Tuesday 4 August 2009


From our website, you may have seen some photos of "Ritha" otherwise known as "Soapnut".
We have managed to get some of the seeds from Nepal to germinate here in the UK and now have 8 little plants.
The latin name is Sapindus Mukorossi and strictly speaking it is a berry, not a nut, that we use for natural soap. These plants will take a very very long time before they start to produce fruit (which usually happens around August and then ripen by December). I am interested to see if they survive the coming winter and are able to flower come next summer.
For more information about Ritha AKA Chinese Soapberry go to
Other species of Sapindus are also covered in Wiki's article.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...