What to Dye with Natural Dyes

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Last year I wrote a post on how to dye fabric with natural dyes. And there’s no doubt that using natural dyes is one of the safest, most environmentally-friendly ways to add some wonderful color and character to your clothes and fabrics. For instance, the marigold pictured above is common in many yards and gardens, and it produces a pretty yellow orange color.

One of the most interesting aspects of using natural dyes with clothing is that you often get some unexpected results.

Natural Ingredients for Dyes

Here’s just a short list of what you could use to dye fabric.

  • Acorns (brown color)
  • Oak bark (tan or oak color)
  • Ivy twigs (yellow brown color)
  • Sassafrass leaves (orange color)
  • Butternut husks (orange color)
  • Raspberries (red color)
  • Strawberries (red/pink color)
  • Cherries (pink color)
  • Dandelion root (red color)
  • Hyacinth flowers (blue color)
  • Marigolds (yellow/orange color)
  • Red Maple, inner bark (purple color)
  • Purple Iris flower (purple color)
  • St. Johns Wart, whole plant soaked in alcohol (red color)
  • Cabbage (purple color)

I could go on and on, but as you see there are tons of wonderful plants you could be experimenting with, and many of them are likely right in your backyard or neighborhood park! There’s a really wonderful, comprehensive list over at Pioneer Thinking that lists many more options. And there’s a fantastic article on natural dying techniques written by The New York Times.

What to Dye with Natural Dyes

I love using natural dyes at home because not only is it a really fun process, it also is creative and organic. I think we all get so used to seeing perfection in everything we buy; things made by a machine or a standardized process are often “perfect.” However, when you dye something yourself it’s very often not perfect. There are subtle changes in color saturation where the fabric folded or where the dye was more concentrated. Or, you might get a color you didn’t expect at all!

This is incredibly fun, though. And, it can give you results more beautiful than you could ever get from a machine.

So what can you dye with natural dyes? Here are some things I’ve dyed, or that are on my to-dye list in the months to come.

  • Curtains (mine turned out fabulous!!!)
  • Tea/dish towels
  • White t-shirts
  • Dresses
  • Rugs
  • Jeans (bleach to lighten them first)
  • Blankets and sheets

What about you? Have you ever used natural dyes at home? If so, what did you use? What did you dye? I’d love to hear your story!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • RSS

Leave a Reply