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Dyeing with Skirt Linings

Ask the Experts: From rags to rich, rich colors

By: Karl Gimber
Photography by Karl Gimber

This small Hit or Miss mat illustrates the colors achieved with skirt lining–dyed wool. 9" x 12", #8.5 cut dyed wool strips on linen. Designed and hooked by Karl Gimber, Carversville, Pennsylvania, 2016.

Most rug hookers are familiar with the practice of hooking rugs with wool that is recycled from used clothing. These garments can be purchased inexpensively from thrift stores and found at flea markets and rummage sales. However, less known is that the colorful linings in that clothing are a valuable source of dye that can be used to overdye wool. The simple process entails leaching the dye from the linings and allowing it to be absorbed by the wool. 

The process for using the linings to dye wool is simple and does not involve working with dyes, chemicals, measuring spoons, or formulas. All that is needed is a pot, vinegar, and non-bleach laundry detergent. 

Karl Gimber and his wife, Mary Jo, are known for their interest in American history. They have created more than 100 rugs inspired by 18th and 19th century tavern and trade signs and have published a book with their hooked work, Tavern Signs: Contemporary Hooked Rugs and the Stories They Tell

This article is from the January/February 2017 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.


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