Homemade Natural Fabric Dye

by Samantha Volz

Knowing how to make your own fabric dye can have a number of exciting benefits. Whether you're looking to spice up your wardrobe or you're looking to give your old upholstery a new boost, creating your own dye can save you money, as well as leave you resting assured that the ingredients are handpicked and without any allergens.

Procedure

The procedure for producing a homemade dye is basically the same, regardless of what natural material you use to produce colors. Generally, one-fourth to one-half cup of the natural ingredient will provide a medium color. Remember that the more ingredient you use, the darker the color will be, so if you are searching for a navy blue as opposed to a sky blue, pile in more of your chosen coloring ingredient.

Add your chosen ingredient to a pot of four cups of water. Simmer the mixture on the stove for at least two hours; you can test the color on a plain white piece of fabric to see if it should simmer longer to get a darker color.

If you want to ensure that the color will lock into the garment tightly, consider soaking it in a fixative before applying the dye. PioneerThinking.com, a website devoted to healthy and family-friendly homemade projects, suggests using different fixative solutions for different materials. If you are going to make your dye out of berries, mix one-half cup of salt into eight cups of cold water. For dyes made from plant materials, mix one cup of vinegar into four cups of cold water. Soak the soon-to-be-dyed garment in the mixture for an hour, then rinse with clean cold water to remove any excess.

To dye the fabric, soak it in your dye solution overnight; again, you can wait a little longer if you want a darker color.

Ingredients

You can use many natural ingredients to get the proper colors for garments. For instance, to make blue, you can use red cabbage leaves, blueberries, elderberries, red onion skins or hyacinth flowers, simmered as instructed above. For red, use cranberries, beets, crab apple bark or rose hips.

Don't be afraid to try to mix colors or go for different shades using different combinations of ingredients, amount, simmering time and soaking time. However, if you are going to play around to get just the right color, practice on spare fabrics or old garments that you don't really care about before trying to dye your best shirt.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.