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The Process of Making Natural Color Sasirangan Fabric

The ancestors of the Indonesian nation in 1856 had used Natural Coloring Agents long before Synthetic / Chemical Dyes were used. Sasirangan cloth is colored with dyes made from natural materials, which are made from seeds, fruits, leaves, skin, or tubers of plants that grow wild in the forest or deliberately planted around the residence of the sasirangan cloth makers themselves. Each dyestuff has a different way of working. It can be through a direct process, fermentation (decay) or through an extraction process (boiled).

A.      Direct process

Direct process (direct) is a natural material that can be directly used by pounding or blending then taking water or collision. For example, turmeric (yellow).

For example, to produce a yellow color from turmeric, 1 kg of turmeric is needed and then ground or blended then add enough water and then filter the water. Add 5 liters for dyeing one piece of fabric (2 meters). In addition to the direct process, usually the material after pounding / blending then boiled, so that the resulting color is maximized. Because the direct process produces thin, not concentrated colors.

B.      Fermentation process (decay)

The fermentation process (decay) is by soaking or rotting leaves or wood in water accompanied by certain processes. The material used is indigofera (tom / tamim / indigo) which produces a blue color.

Recipe for making Indigo Paste:

  1. Prepare 1 kg of fresh indigo leaves (with twigs) soaked in 5 liters of water, try to keep the leaves below the surface of the water.
  2. After ± 10 hours, the fermentation process begins which is characterized by the presence of gas bubbles and blue color (green solution).
  3. The fermentation process is complete when gas bubbles no longer arise, and the water is greenish-yellow. It usually takes about 24-48 hours.
  4. Enter 20-30 grams of liquid lime powder.
  5. During burrowing, a violent frothing of blue occurs. Burwing is stopped after no permanent foam occurs and is faded blue, which is an indication that the indigo has begun to settle. The burrowing process is carried out by taking the solution with a dipper and then pouring the solution back into the bucket at a height to cause foam.
  6. Let the liquid stand for ± 24 hours (Settling Process).
  7. Separate the water from its paste-shaped precipitate (strain with a fine cloth).
  8. Store indigo paste in a dry and cool place. Try not to be exposed to sunlight.


Indigo paste needs to be processed into Indigo dye before use:

  1. Dissolve 1 kg of indigo paste in ± 10 liters of water.
  2. Strain and remove the residue.
  3. Add 1/2 kg of liquid java sugar (can be replaced with Hydrosulfite).
  4. Stir to taste until well mixed.
  5. Let stand and cover for ± 24 hours.
  6. See if the liquid is greenish-yellow, it means that the natural dye is ready for use.

C.     Extraction process (boiled)  

The extraction process is by boiling the ingredients that will be used as natural dyes. Boiling to obtain extraction/manufacture of natural dye solution needs to be adjusted to the weight of the material to be processed so that the amount of natural dye solution produced can be sufficient for dyeing textile materials. The amount of natural dyestuff solution required depends on the amount of textile material to be processed. The ratio of dyestuff solutions to commonly used textile materials is 1: 10. For example, the weight of textile materials processed is 100 grams, then the need for natural dye solution is 1 liter. These are the steps of the extraction process to explore natural dyes on a laboratory scale:

  1. Cut into small sizes the desired parts of the plant for example: leaves, stems, bark or fruit. The material can be dried first or directly extracted.  Take the piece weighing 500 gr. 
  2. Put the pieces in a saucepan. Add water in a ratio of 1:10. For example, if the weight of the extracted material is 500gr, then the water is 5 liters.
  3. Boil the ingredients until the volume of water is halved (2.5liters). If you want the dye solution to be thicker, the volume of the remaining boiling can be reduced, for example, to one-third. As an indication that the color pigment present in the plant has come out, it is indicated by water after boiling to become colored. If the solution remains clear, it means that the plant almost certainly does not contain color pigments.  
  4. Filter with filter gauze the solution from the extraction process to separate it from the remaining extracted material (residue). This filtered extract solution is called natural dye solution. After cooling, the solution is ready for use.

D.     Preparation of immersion with natural dyes.

Before dyeing with natural dye solutions on cotton and silk fabrics, it is necessary to carry out several preparation processes as follows:

1.  Mordanting process

Textile materials to be dyed must be mordanted first. This mordanting process is intended to increase the attractiveness of natural dyes to textile materials and is useful for producing good evenness and sharpness of colors. The mordanting process is carried out as follows:

    • Cut textile materials as sample to color with a size of 10 X 10 Cm.
    • Soak the textile material to be dyed in a solution of 2gr/liter of neutral soap (soap Sunlight) or TRO (Turkey Red Oil). This means that every 1 liter of water used is added 2 grams of neutral soap or TRO. Soaking is carried out for 2 hours. It can also be soaked overnight. After that the material is washed and aerated.
    • For cotton fabric: Make a solution containing 8 grams of alum and 2 grams of soda ash (Na2CO3) in every 1 liter of water used. Stir until dissolved. Boil the solution to a boil, then put the cotton material and boil for 1 hour. After that, turn off the heat and a cotton cloth is left to soak in the solution for overnight. After soaking overnight in the solution, the cloth is removed and rinsed (do not squeeze) and then dried and ironed. The cotton cloth is ready to be drawn for later dying.
    • For silk: Make a solution containing 8 grams of alum in every 1 liter of water used, stirring until dissolved. Heat the solution to 60ºC then put silk or wool material and process for 1 hour with the solution temperature kept constant (40 – 60ºC). After that, stop heating and the cloth is left to soak in the solution overnight. After soaking overnight in the solution, the cloth is removed and rinsed (do not squeeze) and then dried and ironed. The mordanted silk cloth is ready to be dyed with a solution of natural dyes.

2.  Solution making Fixer (color locker)

In the process of dyeing textile materials with natural dyes, a fixer process is needed , which is a color locking process after the material is dyed with natural dyes so that the color has good fastness. There are 3 types of fixer solutions commonly used, namely tunjung (FeSO4), alum (Kal(SO4)2), or lime (Ca(OH)2). For that before dyeing we need to prepare a fixer solution especially by:

    • Solution fixer Tunjung : Dissolve 40 grams of tunjung in every liter of water used. Let it settle and take the clear solution.
    • Solution fixer Alum: Dissolve 50 grams of alum in every liter of water used. Let it settle and take the clear solution.
    • Solution fixer Chalk: Dissolve 50 grams of lime in every liter of water used. Let it settle and take the clear solution.

E.      Design pattern making and stitching

After the cloth is clean of starch, then the next stage is cutting and sewing. The process is as follows:

1. Painting or Drawing

The limp cloth that has been cleaned of starch is then painted with the desired motif. The cloth to be painted has been cut to the desired size, for example 2 or 3 meters, simply using an ordinary pencil as long as the lines of the painting are clearly visible. This painting or drawing work can be distinguished in two ways, namely:

    • Paint or draw directly and freely according to the desired painting or drawing,
    • Paint or draw using existing patterns or malls.

2. Baste

After the painting is finished drawing on the white sheet, the next job is to stretch or smok using hand needles that have been given strong thread (Thread No. 8). The fabric is stretched by following the lines of the painting. The size of the longitude varies from short 1-2 mm, medium 3-4 mm or 5-10 mm long. Sometimes the stitch could have been a bond with a thread. When the thread is finished for a piece of cloth, the threads are pulled strongly, (sisited) so that as a result, the fabric that is stretched becomes wrinkled. Success in making sasirangan motifs depends on whether or not it is strong

F.      Immersion process with natural dyes

After the dimordanting material and fixer solution  are ready, the textile dyeing process can be immediately carried out in the following way:

  1. Prepare a solution of natural dyes from the direct/fermentation/vessel process in the dyeing site.
  2. Put the mordanted textile material into a natural dye solution and dye for 15 – 30 minutes.
  3. Put the ingredients into the solution Fixer You can choose between tunjung, alum or quicklime. The material is processed in solution Fixer for 10 minutes. To find out the color difference produced by each solution Fixer Then process 3 pieces of cloth in natural dye solution, after that take 1 sheet of difixer in tunjung solution, 1 sheet in alum solution and one in quicklime solution.
  4. Rinse and wash the ingredients and then dry. The finished material is stained with a solution of natural dyes.
  5. Observe the resulting color and color difference in the textile material after difixer with each solution Fixer.

The process of dyeing with natural dyes can be described in the following chart:

Immersion with natural dyes is usually done repeatedly to get the desired color. This means that after dying, then sparked (aerated for some time), dyed again repeatedly until the desired color is obtained then just fixer and dried. There is also what is done by dyed then  difixer, dip again difixer repeatedly until the desired color is obtained and then dried.

G.    Examples of natural color sasirangan fabrics

Figure 1. King Spinach motif sasirangan cloth with Indigofera dye

Figure 2. Iris Pudak motif aspirant fabric with Indigofera, Turmeric and Bixa dyes

Figure 3. Natural color sasirangan cloth traditional motifs with a variety of natural color combinations

Examples of Motifs