Resources for Dyeing Fabric

Posted by Tasha McGlashan on

                            Clamped white fabric getting ready to dye on top of a wooden table

Resources for Natural Dyeing


It's pretty easy looking for natural dyes and begin using them the same day.


You may already have what you need in your kitchen, front yard and backyard!


Here are a list of natural dyes, this list is by no means complete.




Bay Leaves, Lavender, Mint Leaves, Rosemary, Thyme


In the wild


Eucalyptus, Dandelions, Daffodils, Alder Catkins, Nettles, Cochineal, Indigo, Madder Root, Marigold, Black Walnut


Fruits and Veggies


Carrot Tops, Black Tea, Rooibos Tea, Hibiscus Flower Tea, Red Onion Skins, Yellow Onion Skins, Blueberries, Blackberries, Pomegranate, Beetroot, Avocado Skin, Avocado Stone


Choose Your Fabric


Cellulose: Cotton, bamboo, linen, hemp, rayon, ramie (think plants)


Protein: Cultivated silk, camel, alpaca, angora, cashmere, mohair, sheep's wool, tussah silk (think animals)


How to dye


Depending on how involved you want to be, you can choose to mordant (preparing your fabric to hold the dye) the fabric or use an aluminum pot to act as your mordant.


I use alum, which can be bought at any grocery store and is used for cooking.


However, I recently bought a dye book that removes alum as a mordant; instead I can use an aluminum pot.


I'm going to test the differences using leftover hemp fabric. I'll share the results in a later blog! 


With plants and flowers, you put them in a stainless steel pot (using a mordant like alum) or an aluminum pot (the pot is the mordant) and heat it for an hour to an hour and half.


Use a strainer to catch the flower or plant leaves that way you can dry them and use them later.  


Dip the wet treated or untreated fabric (depending on the mordant style you use) into the pot, stirring occasionally. 


Turn off the heat and let cool, stir occasionally.


Leave the fabric in for 24 hours to get the best results.

For further instructions, especially for beginners, I suggest reading

Botanical Colour At Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos. 

Botanical Color book cover

For further instructions for advanced dyers, I suggest: 

The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar

The Modern Dyer book cover

* List provided by Botanical Colour At Your Fingertips and The Modern Natural Dyer.


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