Natural Dyes with Rachelle Tolwin

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We recently had the pleasure of talking to one of our very creative co-op members, Rachelle Tolwin, about her business, Little Mountain Kids. Using natural dyes, Rachelle creates stylish, eco-friendly, toxin-free children's clothing. As we’ve gotten to know Rachelle, she’s shared her passion and her process with us during her visits to the co-op to pick up food for her family and supplies for her business. We asked Rachelle to share more with us about what she does, and a recipe for homemade dye. She kindly obliged. 

First, we asked Rachelle to tell us more about her business, Little Mountain Kids. “I started Little Mountain Kids because I’m and artist and screen printer; after having my first child I decided to fuse my love of art with my love of kids and children’s clothing. I screen printed some of my playful drawings onto onesies, and decided to take it a step further by naturally, hand-dying the fabric. I really liked it, and it sort of took off from there.”

How did she learn about naturally dyes, we inquired. “A friend of mine had taken a class on natural dyes. She was working with indigo and I asked her to teach me too. It sparked a real interest in me and I began researching everything I could on the subject. Plus, I love the idea of doing as much with our land and the things we grow as possible, using what we have on hand.”  

Rachelle always uses organic cotton for the onesies and t-shirts she produces. For dyes, Rachelle says, “I love using onion skins, turmeric, black beans… It’s fun to try different things, and much of what I use that isn’t grown in my garden comes from High Falls Food Co-op.” She continues, “When you have a baby, and they are so new and pure, you want to clothe them in the purest thing as well. Using natural dyes on organic cotton is how I did that, and what I offer through my brand.” 

You can find Rachelle’s designs on the Little Mountain Kids website. Thanks to Rachelle for sharing with us, and for giving us the following natural dye recipe. We encourage you all to share this craft with with your kids this winter. 

 

Rachelle’s Natural Onion Skin Dye

You will need:

-2 cups onion skins

-cheese cloth

-linen or silk (dye holds best to these in this recipe)

-soymilk

-water

 

Instructions:

Rinse the fabric well with water.

Soak the fabric in a mixture of 3 parts water to one part soy milk (enough to fully soak fabric in) for two hours. 

Wrap and tie onion skins in cheese cloth. 

Boil onion skins in a pot of water. 

Once boiled, remove from the heat and cool. 

Be creative! Tie the fabric with rubber bands if a tie dye effect is desired.

Soak fabric in dye until the desired color is reached. 

Rinse with a little detergent and dry.