Natural Dyeing

Spring is such a great time for a little creating, particularly tactile handcrafting that you can do outside. Creating can be such a soul-filling activity, causing us to to slow down, be mindful and make something beautiful and practical.

Katelin (much more than just our in-house model!) has put together a beginner's guide to natural dyeing. I love that it's a chemical-free process and that everything you need to get started are things you'll probably find in your home already. 

I'll hand it over to Katelin...

Natural Dyeing Tutorial


For my first foray into natural dyeing I have opted for the chemical-free process of dyeing with natural dyes.

This process may mean the colours are not as vibrant and may not last as long but I couldn’t see the point of using natural dyes and then adding chemicals! But this method might be more applicable for dyeing fibres and materials that aren’t going to be regularly washed. 

What you’ll need:
~ dyestuff (material to be dyed). use 100% natural fibres: cotton, linen, silk, wool, bamboo.
~ washing detergent
~ vinegar
~ water
~ pots and bowls for dying in
~ dye ingredients according to your desired colour result



1. Preparing your dyestuff 

The first step is to hand wash your dyestuff to remove any oils or residues. In a large bowl mix warm water and washing detergent and soak your dyestuff for approximately 2 hours.
Once it is finished soaking, rinse with cool water.

2. Mordanting

his is the step that usually involves the addition of a chemical, but we are using vinegar instead. The mordanting process helps the dye attach to the fabric. In a large saucepan heat 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Add your dyestuff and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Remove and rinse. Keep dyestuff damp in a bowl of water.

3. Developing the dyes

This is where you can experiment and develop your own dye colours or try the following suggestions:

Pastel pink - beetroot (2 beetroots)
Pastel orange - paprika (15g)
Natural brown - red onion skins (2-3 skins)
Yellow - turmeric (15g)
Purple - red cabbage (1/4 red cabbage)
Teal - red cabbage + baking soda  (1/4 red cabbage + 2 tablespoons baking soda)

In a large pot add dye ingredients into aprox 2 litres of water. Simmer for 1 hour then remove from heat. Keep in mind the amount of liquid will reduce as the dye simmers and develops colour.

4. Dying the dyestuff

Once the dye has been developed and removed from heat, submerge the damp dyestuff and let sit overnight or until desired result has been achieved (the result will lighten once the dyestuff has dried). Note that I found that turmeric only required 20 minutes. Once the dyestuff is the desired colour, remove dyestuff from dye, rinse under cool water and dry.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published