Today I dyed some shirting fabrics in a green bath. It is wonderful how differently the different fabrics take the dye. Much, of course, depends on what the underlying color is.
I have a real bias. I love cotton and am not really interested in working with other fabrics. I know a lot of fiber artists who love working with silk. Their work is often quite beautiful and silk takes dyes in a really vibrant way, but still I am in love with cotton.
I think part of it is that cotton is really the same material as paper, that most basic art material. It is pure cellulose and both paper and cotton fabrics have the same feel and opacity and smell and a certain subtle texture—a tooth that begs for pigment to be applied. Earthy. Simple. The fiber grows from the earth, is spun and woven and dyed and/or printed. My favorite fiber for clothing is cotton as well. Cotton yields and caresses us, and conforms to our bodies from birth. Besides human hands, it is usually the first thing we touch on this earth. It is the oldest fabric, dating from before 5000 BCE.
I have no taste for shine and sparkle and glitter. My tastes are more simple and I find richness in the matte depth of a woven cotton surface. A needle slides effortlessly through and the fabric sinks into the stitches and relaxes into the thread, gracefully accepting the stitcher's plan. Cotton never argues. Cotton knows its calling.