Natural Dyes Decorate Eco-Friendly Apparel

When Jill Spiro’s daughter and her daughter’s friends found themselves in a clothing conundrum, Spiro stepped up to help. “Some of her friends’ children were sensitive to dyes in their apparel,” Spiro explains. “Few natural, organic options were available.”

That’s when Spiro, a retired teacher with a love for children, started creating organic, naturally decorated apparel as gifts for the young parents. “It started in 2013, but it was more of a hobby then,” she says. Due to the products’ popularity, the hobby morphed into Pennington, NJ-based company, little b natural organics.

Sourcing natural-colored garments in the U.S. and other colors from a fair-trade factory in India, Spiro uses organic materials – such as flowers, bark and plants – to dye them. “Natural dyes are more muted than regular, highly saturated dyes,” she says, “though indigo does look vibrant.”

Spiro’s eco-printing methods include submerging garments in a dye bath, sometimes adding a layer of paint on top to complement the pattern. “Ice-dyeing is also a fun technique,” she says. This includes placing ice on the garment, sprinkling powdered dyes on top, and allowing the dyes to merge together as the ice melts.

The artist produces her own stencils and stamps, which aid in some of her more whimsical designs. “I combine stencils and stamps to make a story with pictures,” Spiro says, “such as woodland animals beside trees.” Popular designs include a hedgehog with a bird, and a bear peeking around at a honeycomb and a bee. The all-organic clothing line offers sizes ranging from onesies (0-3 months through 18-24 months) and kids’ T-shirts and dresses up to size 10.

To sharpen her skills, Spiro recently enrolled in business courses and took a workshop with textile artist India Flint. “The part I enjoy most is the creativity – trying different things and seeing how people respond to it,” Spiro says. Her products can be purchased at craft shows, harvest fairs, holiday boutiques and online at www.littlebnaturalorganics.com.