I have done very little fabric dyeing in my life. To be honest, it kind of intimidates me! I consider myself a seasoned crafter but I still get nervous that I will permanently mess something up with fabric dye. However, I decided to face my fears and try natural dyeing techniques. Guess what? It is totally awesome! It’s easy and fun. Just about any fruit or veggie will dye fabric. You can even use certain spices. So it’s fun to experiment with whatever you have in your kitchen. I decided to try out turmeric and blueberries. The results are stunning. I’ll show you how easy it is to use natural fabric dye to dye a tote bag and an apron- let’s get started!
- White or Neutral-colored fabric, like these aprons or tote bags
- Large pots, Water & Stovetop
Step 1: Add salt to a pot of cool water. The rule of thumb is 1 part salt to 16 parts water. The salt acts as a fixative and helps the dye stick to the fabric.Step 2: Soak your fabric in the salt water. I let my apron soak for about 30 minutes.Step 3: Wring your fabric out but make sure it is still wet. You could also dump the salt water at this point and reuse the pot for the next step.Step 4: Add turmeric to a pot of water and bring to a boil. I probably used 1/4 cup of turmeric to 8-10 cups of water. I made sure the water was very pigmented. You could play around with this to achieve different saturation levels.Step 5: Add your wet fabric to the boiling turmeric + water mixture and bring to a simmer. You can let this sit for as little or as long as you’d like. If you want a light yellow, just dip the fabric. I let mine sit for an hour or so.Step 6: While that fabric was sitting, I started another natural fabric dye. I added a 6 oz. box of blueberries to a pot of boiling water. I don’t think you need an entire box but I wanted to be sure my dye was very pigmented. Step 7: After boiling the blueberries for a bit, most people would strain them out and keep the dyed water. I was too impatient to wait around for the blueberries to properly dye the water so I left the blueberries in and dyed my fabric in the blueberry + water mixture. This meant the occasional blueberry left a dark mark on the fabric. Step 8: I quickly dipped the bottom of my tote bag into the turmeric dye to get a light yellow. Then I let the other half of the tote bag sit in the blueberry fabric dye mixture for awhile. The longer it sat, the more the purple dye crept up the bag. I waited until I liked the look and then took it out.Step 9: Take your fabric out of the hot water, rinse it off in cold water, and hang it up to dry (or dry it in the dryer).
I was so pumped with the results! Check out my new Easter bag. Perfect for collecting eggs stuffed with cash and candy. 🙂And here is my turmeric-dyed apron in use. I love how deep the color is.I was even able to save the extra fabric dye in a jar in my refrigerator. It is supposed to keep for several weeks.
I think there are two great things about natural fabric dye. One, you can use items you already have in your kitchen. Two, it is an organic process that is supposed to be imperfect. That’s a big part of the natural dyeing culture – that the dyes are a beautiful result of natural processes and we should marvel at the nuances of each dyed project. This concept really allowed me to let go of that fear of making mistakes. It was so enjoyable and the results are great!
What do you have in your kitchen that you could use as a fabric dye?
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Katie is the creative mind behind lemonjitters.com, a blog dedicated to all things crafty. Her interests are ever-changing and currently include: kitschy kitchen timers, digital design, eating lots of chocolate and paper crafting.