How to dye clothes naturally

Extract from Selfsufficientish Bible You can use a range of plants for home dying. Clothes that are dyed with natural dyes should not be machine washed as the colours can run. Before dying, treat the fabric with a mordant to fix the colour.

1. Soak the garment for at least 2 hours in a mordant solution. For fruit dyes, use a salt mordant (1 part salt to 16 parts water); for other plant dyes, use a vinegar mordant (1 part white vinegar to 4 parts cold water). Rinse the garment well before dying.

2. Finely chop the plant material, place it in a large pan with enough boiling water to cover the item you eventually want to dye, turn the heat down and simmer for an hour or so. The more water you use the weaker the concentration. As a rule of thumb, use 500g (1lb) plant material per 20 litres (5 gallons) water, but bear in mind that this will vary depending on the existing colour of the garment and strength of the dye in the plant material.

3. Take the dye mixture off the heat and strain it into a large basin or washing up bowl.

4. Soak your garment in the dye. The depth of colour will depend on how long you leave it to soak. For deep,dark colours soak overnight and for lighter shades soak for just a couple of hours. Wring out the garment and leave it to dry.



This short extract was taken from the book that we spent last year writing. See to the left how you can get your copy for a 25% discount.

Article written by Dave Hamilton. Dave has now left Selfsufficientish but you can catch up with him on or on twitter @davewildish

1 Comment on How to dye clothes naturally

  1. Reading your article reminds me of my mother. She used to buy fleece and wash it in the driveway, then spin her own yarn and dye it with natural dyes before making sweaters and hats for the family. I don’t have that kind of space, but I could use it to “freshen up” some of my faded clothes, I guess.

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