Posts Tagged ‘natural tie-dye’

Shibori Indigo Fabric Dyeing

Posted on April 21st, 2014 by Tonia 9 Comments

I had to dust off the ol’ blog this week to share this fun project…The most popular post I ever wrote, by far, was this one about dyeing fabric with natural, homemade dye. I honestly haven’t done much fabric dyeing since then, but last week my interest was piqued all over again when my mom gifted me an indigo dyeing kit.

We got to work immediately, looking all over the house for random white things to dye. The kit came with instructions and supplies (rubber-bands, wood blocks, etc.) for a few simple shibori techniques.

I dyed a couple curtain panels, a tank top, a t-shirt, a bandana, and a vintage dress. It was SO easy, the perfect way to make old, dingy-white things look new and beautiful again, and just a really fun activity for a dreary spring day.

The dye looks green until it oxidizes, and becomes a beautiful deep blue color in the end. It also stains your skin blue for DAYS, as I found out when I accidentally dipped my hand in too far, filling my rubber glove with dye…

I highly recommend this kit if you’re interested in learning some simple shibori techniques. The dye bath was very easy to set up, and the whole process of dyeing only took us a couple hours. I will definitely be doing this again…thanks, Mom!

On another note, can you believe how much snow we still have???

How to Make Natural Fabric Dye

Posted on May 12th, 2011 by Tonia 68 Comments

A close friend of ours got married last weekend, and naturally I wanted something nice to wear to the wedding. Buuuut, we live several hours away from any semblance of a mall. This is a blessing and a curse…on one hand, we are never tempted to run to Target to buy random stuff. On the other hand, I can’t just run to Target and buy a cute maxi dress whenever we’re invited to a wedding. So, I decided that this would be a great opportunity to hone my sewing skills, and make something rather than buy something. I hurried off to the fabric store in town, hoping for a beautiful spring-y colored fabric to jump out and inspire me.

The only fabric store around here is a quilt shop, which carries almost exclusively cotton fabric in quilt-y patterns, if you know what I mean. Not exactly dress material. I was feeling a little woeful until I spotted a bundle of 100% organic white cotton, and it dawned on me that I could dye it to be whatever cheerful spring color I wanted.

With the white fabric in hand {luckily it was a very high quality cotton!} I went home and commenced my research about fabric dyeing, which was a completely new adventure to me. Not only did I want to make sure my finished product would be color-fast so that I could wash it and care for it like normal clothes, I also needed to make the dye from biodegradable and all-natural ingredients. I found this great blog post {on one of my favorite blogs! They have fantastic posts!} about using food to dye fabric, and this list of all-natural dye sources, which lead me to choose Tumeric in hopes to achieve a bright yellow color. It turns out that natural fabric dyeing is actually quite simple, with quick and stunning results.


White vinegar {for plant dyes} or salt {for berry dyes}

Dye source of your choice

Large aluminum pot {aluminum helps to set the dye in the fabric, for some chemistry-related reason I don’t fully understand. Just go with it.}

White or light colored fabric {natural fabric like silk, cotton, wool, and linen work best}

Rubber gloves

{My mom and I found all the supplies, besides the fabric, at the local supermarket in my Grandma’s neighborhood. So easy and cheap!}


Wash and dry your fabric according to its type. Mine was 100% cotton, so I washed it on cold and dried it on low. The purpose here is to get the starch out of the fabric.

Once it is clean and dry, simmer your fabric in the large aluminum pot for one hour in a mixture of water and vinegar {four parts water to one part vinegar}. The vinegar acts as a fixative. If you’re using berries as your dye source, use salt instead of vinegar {1/2 cup salt to 8 cups of water}.

{Isn’t my Grandma’s kitchen SO cute? A big thank-you to her for letting my mom and me do this whole project at her house! It was really fun to hang out and make something together!}

Rinse and ring out your fabric thoroughly in cold water until it no longer smells like vinegar, and set it aside- still damp- while you prepare your dye bath.

Fill the aluminum pot with fresh water- no vinegar this time- and heat it up to a simmer.

Add your dye source to it until the water is visibly tinted. I sprinkled Tumeric into the water and stirred until it dissolved and I could tell that the color was opaque enough to stain my fabric. It was about 1/2 cup of Tumeric. You’ll have to just play around with this, there’s no exact measurement since it depends on how dark/light you want your fabric to be in the end. You can dip a tip of your fabric into the bath to test its strength.

Let the dye bath simmer without the fabric in it for 10 minutes, and meanwhile, tie your fabric in any pattern you want with cotton string. Where the string is, the dye will not penetrate as well, leaving white or very light-colored areas for a “tie-dye” effect. This is an optional step- you could just dye the fabric without tying it.

Submerge your fabric in the dye bath and simmer for 15 min. Turn/stir the fabric every once in a while to make sure it is not sticking and burning on the bottom of the pot.

After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the fabric sit in the pot for as long as you want {overnight if you want the deepest possible color.} I only let mine sit for 10 minutes because I wanted a soft, pastel color.

Remove the fabric from the dye bath when you have reached a color that is about two shades darker than your desired color, untie the string, rinse with cold water and ring gently until the water runs clean and no more dye comes out. It will lighten about one shade during the rinsing step.

Hang the fabric to dry, or put it in the dryer on “air fluff” until it dries. It will lighten about one more shade as it dries. Now it is ready to be made into whatever beautiful creation you can think of!

My mom took over the project at this point, because it was clear that my meager sewing skills were not going to cut it. She {without a pattern!} sewed me a beautiful pleated, floor-length skirt with a hidden zipper in the back. THANK YOU, MOMMY! I looooove it, and it was perfect for the wedding!