Several years ago I read an article about dying fabric with rusty objects and was enthralled. At the time I was living in a little apartment with no place large enough to lay fabric out for any length of time, so I didn’t try it. Since I’ve gotten back into natural dyeing and I have the space, I’ve really been enjoying experimenting with rust.
There are plenty of places online that will give you instructions, but it boils down to laying out your scoured fabric (natural fabrics take the color much easier), place your rusty objects on the fabric, and wet it down with a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Sometimes it takes more than one application of the solution. You must be careful not to let the fabric go too long or the rust will damage the fabric. Once the fabric is to your liking, mix up about a cup of salt in a sink or bucket of water. Dip your fabric (and your rusty metal) into the salt solution. This stops the rusting action and helps the color fastness of the fabric. I often do two of the
salt treatments on each piece of fabric, then I throw it in the washer and let the machine get all the vinegar and salt out of the fabric.
Once your fabric is clean and dry, you can make lovely stuff from it, like the dresses and scarves I’ve recently been making. So don’t be afraid, have fun playing with rust!