Chandni Chowk home page shopping bag
natural dyes

Natural dyes Natural Vegetable & Mineral Dyes

Many of Chandni Chowk’s fabrics are either printed and/or dyed using Natural Dyes. A huge and varied palette of colours can be achieved using natural dyes, below is a brief explanation of how some of these colours are made. You will see from these notes that Natural Dyes are affected by many factors including air temperature and humidity, and the resulting fabrics vary from one batch of dyeing or printing to the next, every piece is unique.

Blue from the Indigo plant
Our Indigo collections demonstrate the rich blue achieved from the Indigo plant. The leaves are soaked in water for several hours until compounds from them collect in the water. The leaves are removed and the water whisked exposing it to the air, this forms the indigo residue which is then used for dyeing and printing. This is an environmentally friendly process as the plants require little maintenance and are often used to revitalize soil between crops. The soaked leaves are also sold on as an organic fertilizer. Some blues in the Chandni Chowk collections are made using ‘Nature identical’ indigo.

Yellow from Turmeric and Pomegranate
 Yellow dye can be made by boiling the shells of the pomegranate for 48 hours, the liquid is strained and mixed with ground Turmeric in a copper pot. The Hindi word for Turmeric is Haldi, and is often used as a food spice. Turmeric provides a strong dye either with or without the Pomegranate, it is often used in conjunction with other dyes such as Indigo to produce a green, or with Madder root to achieve a rust/orange.
Green from Turmeric, Pomegranate and Indigo
 Turmeric and Pomegranate are used to create yellow dyes which are often used over the top of  an Indigo dyed or printed fabric resulting in an overall green effect. The yellow dyes are light sensitive and over time your green fabric will become more and more blue (indigo is far more stable) with successive washing and wearing, as the indigo remains but the yellow dyes begin to loose their strength.
natural dyes
Red from Alum and Alizarine
 Alizarine commonly comes from the dried root of the madder plant (though other roots are also used). The Alum (a metal compound) which acts as a mordant is first printed onto the fabric as a colourless paste. When this is immersed into a vat of Alizarine the 2 compounds react with each other and turn red.
Black from Iron, Sugar and Alum
 Rusted Iron (often from old horse shoes) is soaked in a mix of sugar solution (sugar from molasses) and a flour made from Tamarind seed. This is left to ferment in the sun for a week to 15 days. The resulting paste produces a rich black, quite different from that made from chemical dyes.

Care instructions for Chandni Chowk fabrics; care instructions