As we showed with our woad dyed dresses last year, Outsider is dedicated to working with natural dyes to colour our sustainable fabrics as often as possible.
We’re not ones to let the grass grow under our feet, so as soon as the woad dresses were on the shelves we started to investigate weld – a natural yellow dye.
Here comes the history part…
Weld is probably Europe's most ancient dye plant and is believed to predate the use of both woad and madder. Originating in the Mediterranean there are written references to it in the BC era.
The Romans, Saxons and Vikings all used it and by the middle ages weld was being combined with woad to create Lincoln Green – the same shade of green you have seen on the clothes worn by various TV, film and pantomime Robin Hoods and merry men.
As with woad, weld was replaced by cheaper synthetic dyes at the beginning of the twentieth century and now only a handful of craftspeople worldwide still practice the technique. We’ve been very lucky to be able to work with one based in England.
And here comes the science…
The yellow dye is obtained from Reseda luteola. This is picked soon after it begins to flower and the leaves, roots, heads and seeds are all added to a vat of water. It is boiled and let simmer for an hour before being allowed to cool.
The drained liquid is then placed in another vat, the fabric added and once more it is brought to boil and let simmer for another hour.
The fabric is now the brightest yellow that weld can offer but the remaining dye is not wasted. It is used again in the same way to dye other fabrics or garments in progressively lighter shades of yellow.
We fell in love with weld for the same reasons we love woad – it looks great and is completely natural. When used on organic cotton we can maintain the purity of the cloth, right through to the colour.
The nature of hand dyeing means that no two dresses are alike – each garment has its own shade and is completely unique.
We chose our vintage inspired Adela shirt dress design for this limited edition run. The symbolic meaning of the color yellow was renewal and hope, which makes it perfect for launching in spring.
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