U.K.-based fabric company Andover has a new line of fabrics hand-printed using vegetable dyes. The website doesn’t say so but I think they must certainly be from India. They would great for garments or home accessories.
By producing fabrics using natural dyes and traditional technology, Andover is providing quilters with the opportunity of going green. Natural vegetable dyes provide a beautiful range of colors for quilters that are eco-friendly. Natural dyes do not require the use of environmental pollutants as synthetic dyes do. As an added bonus, indigo and other natural dye plants do not deplete the soil, but instead add nutrients back into the ground to improve its productivity and increase the viability of local agriculture. Traditional Printing Techniques: The traditional method of block printing, known today as kalamkari, is used to produce Andover’s first collection of naturally-dyed cottons. Kalamkari literally translates as “pen-work” but has come to be associated with hand block printing using natural dyes. The process is complex and time-consuming. It begins by bleaching cotton fabric in the sun before treating it with myrobalam (a natural tannin). After waiting a few days the design is printed by hand with carved wooden blocks. This is also aged for a few days before the cloth is dipped in a madder bath, rinsed, and then dipped in a rice water bath before other colors are applied. The final process is washing in soap and laying the cloth out in the sun. The whole printing process takes 75 days.