DIY: Plant Dye

Harness the power of plants and beauty of nature’s palette to breathe colour into fabric. Do so without the toxic heavy metals that end up in our waterways and are detrimental to both ecosystem and human health. Plant dyes also make great use of food leftovers (such as avocado pits and onion skins) and are therefore kind to mama earth and your wallet.

Linen is the best fabric to work with as it better holds the colours of the plant dyes. In addition, linen is a sustainable fabric that is enduring, natural and biodegradable. It is derived from the flax plant which requires significantly less water, pesticides and fertilisers to grow. Therefore, it is able to grow in low-quality soil that would otherwise be unfit for crop production. Once dyed, you might like to sew your newfound colourful linen into a skirt, dress, pants, shirt or tea towel!

Enjoy the creative process of experimentation and delight in the incredible colours you can co-create with nature.

Plant dye (1 of 1)

Ingredients:

  • Linen fabric (white or natural colour)
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Plant material
    • Pink (beetroot)
    • Blush pink (avocado pits)
    • Purple (purple cabbage)
    • Blue (red cabbage + baking soda)
    • Green (spinach)
    • Yellow (turmeric)
    • Orange (yellow onion skins)
    • Brown (tea, coffee)

Method:

  1. Chop your chosen plant material into small pieces and add to a pot with double the amount of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for an hour. Strain out the plant material and return the dye to the pot.
  2. To prepare the fabric for the dye bath, soak the fabric in a colour fixative solution of one part vinegar to four parts water (1/2 cup vinegar to 2 cups of water). Boil the fabric in the fixative solution for one hour.
  3. When the fabric is done, rinse it out under cold water.
  4. Place the wet fabric into the dye bath. Simmer together until the desired colour is obtained. For a stronger colour, let the material soak in the dye overnight.
  5. Wash the fabric separately to your other clothes and hang it up to dry. The colour the fabric will lighten when it dries.
  6. Always wash your dyed fabric in cold water separately from your other clothes.

 


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