Update: This post originally ran on September 21st 2011 but we wanted to bring it back as a reminder of how fun and environmentally friendly natural dyes are! Read More
I have been wanting to experiment with natural dyes for a while now, and with all the great new fall colors that have been popping up on our website (and featured in our monochromatic trend) I decided that it was time. This is such a fun, environmentally friendly project that takes a little time, but very little cash.
For today’s DIY I’ll tell you about what natural ingredients you can use to make natural dyes, and what shades of color they will yield.
What I got: red cabbage, lemons, oranges, beets, yellow onions, blackberries, blueberries, spinach.
For bluish/purple dyes:
Blackberries and red cabbage can be used to make bluish/purple dyes. It’s important to remember when working with natural dyes that experimentation is key – depending on the amount of ingredients you use and how long you leave a garment in the dye, the color you get can vary.
For pinkish/red dyes:
Beets and blueberries can make a really lovely dusty rose color.
For copper/orange dyes:
I never realized what a beautiful color yellow onions can have! Their skins can make an alluring mustard yellow, coppery color.
For yellow dyes:
Orange and lemon peels can be used to make a soft pale yellow dye.
For green dyes:
Finally, spinach can be used to make a beautiful shade of green.
To make the dye, chop up your ingredients and put them in a pot with twice as much water as ingredients. Bring the water to a boil and let simmer for an hour. For deeper colors, you can leave the ingredients in the water (without heat) overnight.
Remove the hard materials from the mixture with a strainer, leaving you with the liquid dye.
Before dyeing, you will also need to create a fixative, which will help your fabric hold the dye.
When working with berries, use a salt fixative – put 1/2 cup of salt in 8 cups of water, put the fabric in and boil for one hour.
When working with vegetables, use a vinegar fixative – mix one part vinegar and four parts water, add your fabric and boil for one hour.
When you remove the fabric, rinse in cold water.
The fabric is now ready to dye! Just drop it in the desired color, let sit until it reaches the shade you want, remove and hang to dry.
I am going to make my dyes and start experimenting this weekend – I’ll share my results next week!