*Keep in mind, the acidity and composition of materials used could affect your fabrics, it's wise to test it out on a swatch first.

Good to Know: Homemade Natural Dyes

My pre-search attempt using boiling water, vinegar, Thai tea, coffee grounds, salt… and three drops of neon orangey-beigey food coloring on a formerly white scarf.

Coffee? Tea?

In attempting to home-dye the above scarf in order to use it as part of my holiday decorations, I decided to look for proven methods of dyeing fabrics/ things at home (extra points for natural ways).

Here’s what I came up with..

Making it stick…

In researching these methods, I found that the biggest issue with these homemade dyes is ensuring they stick/ don’t wash out – so I also looked up some homemade dye-locks & natural fixatives:

While I’ll still buy dyes for bigger projects, I’d like to keep experimenting with homemade dyes (who knows? Perhaps one day I’ll convert entirely).

Best reference for color source ideas…

Did I lose you in a sea of links?

Here’s a cheat sheet I came up with, summarizing the steps I found most important…

*Keep in mind, the acidity and composition of materials used could affect your fabrics, it’s wise to test it out on a swatch first.

10 thoughts on “Good to Know: Homemade Natural Dyes

    • My pleasure! (and that is such a great point – these dyes are perfect for anything I’d make and hand over to little ones, as they tend to put most things in their mouths!)

  1. Many of the items listed are not wash fast. Beets, grapes etc. just don’t work really well. With most things you need a mordant that will create the bond between the dye stuff and the material. Alum (potassium alum) is an easy mordant to use as the waste water can be dumped when you are done. Walnut hulls and onion skins work well and there are many flowers such as goldenrod that are easy to use with good results. If you ever have any questions, I be happy to try to help.

    • You’re incredible! The information you’ve provided is a huge help with my ongoing dyeing experiments – I would love to tap into what you know in order to have more successes than wash-outs (I’m learning through experience, which has a huge error rate).

      • Yes it does! You can order dyestuffs on line—- logwood and madder root and osage orange are all reliable and quite easy. Barks and shavings I soak over night and then boil therm the next morning. I cover the material with water and boil for 15-20 min. and then strain. Keep repeating until all dye is extracted, 3-5 times usually. Plants— goldenrod, marigold zinnia etc.
        I do basically the same way. I find it best to soak them overnight too. Have fun with it!

      • Also, do you have a post on your blog in which you discuss this? If you do, I’d love to link to it in a follow up post to this one.

      • You have so much knowledge that I feel people would really benefit from – you should definitely put together a post. It would be so helpful to have all this information in one post as opposed to scattered across the internet!

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