There are many ways to dye items using natural items such as flowers and vegetables, flowers and fruits. It is a cheap, fun and interesting way to dye. The colors you get are colors you don’t see in the dyes you buy is stores.
This video shows how to use a vegetable (red cabbage) to make a dye. I also have instruction for flowers and fruits below and a website is included for using natural items to get certain colors.
Old Nylon Stockings
vegetables (I use vegetables not quite up to table quality)
bowls and a potato masher (for fruits)
I use onions, cabbage, corn silk, I also use natural items such as bark, dirt, clay and various grasses.
Dry the flowers in a single layer in a cool oven setting – about 150 degrees F. When they are dry to the touch they can be removed form the oven. Note: There are some flowers that work better when they are fresh and not dried, dandelions is one example.
Put the blossoms in a nylon stocking and tie the top shut.
Cover the flowers with cold water in a stockpot.
Bring the water to a low boil for about ½ hour.
Check the color of the water and when you like the look remove the pot from the heat and remove the flowers. (I add the flower to my compost pile)
To get a color that lasts during washing and over time you need to use a fixative. Alum is one popular fixative and can be bought in the gocery store.
Crush berries or grapes in a bowl with a potato masher. Berries seem to work the best in fruits but I have had moderate success with other fruits such as peaches. I also crush small amount of fruit at a time. Its just easier to crush in smaller bunches.
Fill a nylon stocking with the fruit carefully making sure its over a bowl or the stockpot. The fruit will be very juicy and messy. Tie the top of the stocking with string to close it or in a knot.
Soak the fruit for 8 to 12 hours in the stockpot that is half full of room temperature water.
Bring the waterand fruit to a boil for about an hour.
Remove the fruit and nylon stocking.
Add a fixative and use the water for dyeing. You can either use the water as is or dilute it for a softer color.
Natural dying is a fun project. Kids love it and the colors are more artistically pleasing. Give it a try. I am sure you’ll be pleased with the results.
Natural dyes have a softer more natural look. They are also a little more unpredictable in the color outcome so for those who like to experiment it’s a great way to dye items. I have used natural dyes on material, homemade paper for painting and on Easter eggs.
As you experiment more you will find different colors and color combinations. Below is a site with more information on natural dyes and the colors you can expect to get.