Natural dye

Before we get into discussing natural dye, have you signed up for my new monthly newsletter? First one goes out this week! 

The summer holiday is in full swing here, although no one seems to have told the weather. Just as well my latest sewing plans include a sweatshirt really. I’ve decided on a Gilmore Girls quote for my embroidery, but no other spoilers, you’ll have to wait and see. I did love a good slogan tee when I was in my teens.

Natural dye

Naturally dyed textiles.

The girls are at home for the next five weeks, so I’ve been thinking of some craft activities I could do with them. I really want to try doing some natural dyeing with them. Someone on Instagram, I think, recommended that I look at what Rebecca Desnos does and I was blown away! I mean, avocados dyeing things pink? How awesome is that? I showed a photo to Eleanor and she was just as excited. We eat plenty of avocados, so I like the fact that we’ll be using something that would otherwise be waste. I definitely have to get my hands on a copy of her book*.

Beautiful colours, but are they eco-friendly?

Last summer we did some tie-dyeing of t-shirts, which we all enjoyed. I’ve always revived old clothes with dye too, but I wonder how good this is for the environment? Maybe there’s no issue with such small quantities of dye, but using natural dye surely has to be the most ecologically sound?

What materials are needed for natural dyeing?

Did you know you can use dandelions to create natural dye?

I’ve found out that natural fabrics are the best choice for natural dyes, which makes sense. Here are a few colours I’d like to have a go at creating:

Blue: Red cabbage and blueberries

Brown: Acorns, tea and coffee

Green: Spinach, grass and nettles

Pink: Avocados and berries

Yellow: Dandelions, paprika and marigolds

Orange: Onion skins and carrots

There are plenty more things which create each of these beautiful colours, but I’d like to stick to using things that we already buy, or can easily forage. I think that’s better than creating any extra waste.

What to sew with naturally dyed fabric

If you’d sew it using any other kind of fabric, you can sew it with fabric that has been naturally-dyed! It seems that a cold wash with some salt, will fix the colour; not dissimilar to the process of using Dylon. Of course, I will report back once I’ve given it a go!

As I want to do natural dyeing with the girls, I would like to sew them both something with the finished fabric. I’ll leave the final choice up to them, but if they let me sway them then some beautifully-dyed cotton jersey leggings and t-shirts may be in the offing. Maybe even a skater dress each. Actually a skater dress for myself sounds like a good idea too, I really love the ones I’ve made so far.

If you’ve had a go at using natural dye, I love to see your results. Any tips? Leave me a comment.



    • Toria
      2nd August 2017 / 2:09 pm

      Oh freezing things is a great idea, I must remember to do that! I’ll check that podcast out later, thank you 🙂 What are you planning on dyeing with your marigolds?

  1. Sherri
    2nd August 2017 / 4:22 pm

    I’m not sure yet what I’m going to yet. I thought I’d try some white jersey cotton knit and a piece of white cotton/linen blend that I have. I thought I might throw in something colored as well to see how it overdyes.

    • Toria
      2nd August 2017 / 6:28 pm

      I’d be interested to know how you get on dyeing over another colour 🙂

  2. Sherri
    2nd August 2017 / 7:54 pm

    Definitely. It’s a technique I’m eager to try. Lyndsey did an interesting job and posted it to instagram. Her green Charlie Caftan was originally a white paisley.

    • Toria
      2nd August 2017 / 9:25 pm

      Omg, Lyndsey’s instagram account is amazing, thank you for that link. The green caftan is a really nice colour, but I got totally sidetracked by her R2D2 bikini!!

  3. Sherri
    2nd August 2017 / 10:00 pm

    LOL! I’m glad you found something you like.

  4. 6th August 2017 / 6:29 pm

    I love dyeing with plants from the garden and waste, I also eco-print, you might like to try that too. There are some photos on my instagram @theecowardrobewarrior. You can save up your avocado skins and stones in the freezer too. You’ll be growing your own woad next!!

    • Toria
      6th August 2017 / 6:53 pm

      Hi Joelle, I’ve just followed you on Instagram 🙂 I really want to do an eco-printing workshop now, it looks amazing! I’ve popped a load of avocado skins into the freezer this weekend so hopefully I’ll be giving that a go soon.

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