Natural Organic Dyes – Sources

Natural Organic Dyes – Sources


          The Easy Guide for your Natural Dyeing
                                      “To dye is an art, with a brushstrock of science”.

What Can Be Dyed?

Any light-colored (preferably white) natural fibers will take dye.

    Curtains
    Towels
    T-shirts
    Sheets and pillow cases
    Handkerchiefs
    Baby clothes
    Paper

Yes, paper! It’s actually easier to dye than fabric. I just take regular, bright white card stock and soak it in various dyes until I get the shade I want, then hang it up to drip-dry in my basement. The end result? Paper that is way cooler than anything you can buy at the stationery or art supply store!

What Can Be Used as Natural Dyes?

The coolest thing about natural dyeing is that the ingredients you need are likely right in your backyard, or at the grocery store – especially when summer rolls around.

However there are a few ingredients which are famous for the high content of tannin and constant of the color, such as Acacia, Mimosa, Madder, Coral Tree, cochineal and others.

How to Get Started Dyeing

Step 1: Prepare the Dye
Chop your plant or berries into small pieces, measure them, and put them in a medium-to-large pot. Add twice as much water as ingredients. So if you put in two cups of plant material, add four cups of water.

Bring to a boil, and then simmer for one hour. Strain off the hard materials and keep the “dye.”

Keep in mind that the longer you let the materials sit in the water, the stronger your dye is going to be. If you have the time, you can even let it soak overnight (without heat) to get a really concentrated solution.

Step 2: Prepare the Fixative
Once you’ve picked out what you want to dye and you’ve got your dye all ready to go, you have to prepare a fixative for your fabric. This will “fix” the dye into the fibers so it won’t wash out.

If you’re using berries to dye your fabric, you have to use a salt fixative. Put 1/2 cup salt in 8 cups of water. Put your fabric in here and boil for one hour.

If you’re using plants to dye your fabric, you have to use a vinegar fixative. Combine one part vinegar and four parts water, and boil the fabric in the mixture for one hour.

When your fabric is done, rinse it out under cold water.


Step 3: Dye the Fabric
All you do now is place your wet fabric into the dye bath and simmer until the fabric has reached the color and shade you want. Remember, the color is going to be a bit lighter once the fabric dries out.

Then, wash the fabric separately and you’re good to go!

Final Word

Naturally dyeing fabric at home is an especially fun thing to do in the winter months because, let’s face it, we’re stuck indoors and need activities! Plus, we probably all have many of the dyes, like onion skin and celery leaves,  on hand as “waste” anyway. So if you’re not into vermicomposting to help save the environment, this is a great way to use these materials up instead of just throwing them out.

Source: http://www.nativedye.com/the-art-of-natural-dye.html

How to Dye

   Curtains
    Towels
    T-shirts
    Sheets and pillow cases
    Handkerchiefs
    Baby clothes
    Paper

purple red color precipitates out at about pH 7. Acid makes it red, and base makes it brown

How to Get Started Dyeing

Step 1: Prepare the Dye
. Add twice as much water as ingredients. So if you put in two cups of plant material, add four cups of water.

Bring to a boil, and then simmer for one hour. Strain off the hard materials and keep the “dye.”

Keep in mind that the longer you let the materials sit in the water, the stronger your dye is going to be. If you have the time, you can even let it soak overnight (without heat) to get a really concentrated solution.

Step 2: Prepare the Fixative
Once you’ve picked out what you want to dye and you’ve got your dye all ready to go, you have to prepare a fixative for your fabric. This will “fix” the dye into the fibers so it won’t wash out.

If you’re using berries to dye your fabric, you have to use a salt fixative. Put 1/2 cup salt in 8 cups of water. Put your fabric in here and boil for one hour.

If you’re using plants to dye your fabric, you have to use a vinegar fixative. Combine one part vinegar and four parts water, and boil the fabric in the mixture for one hour.

When your fabric is done, rinse it out under cold water.

Step 3: Dye the Fabric
All you do now is place your wet fabric into the dye bath and simmer until the fabric has reached the color and shade you want. Remember, the color is going to be a bit lighter once the fabric dries out.

Then, wash the fabric separately.

Making Natural Dyes from Plants

Did you know that a great source for natural dyes can be found right in your own back yard! Roots, nuts and flowers are just a few common natural ways to get many colors. Yellow, orange, blue, red, green, brown and grey are available. Go ahead, experiment!

Gathering plant material for dyeing: Blossoms should be in full bloom, berries ripe and nuts mature. Remember, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild when gathering plant stuff for dying.

To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain. Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight.

Getting the fabric ready for the dye bath: You will have to soak the fabric in a color fixative before the dye process. This will make the color set in the fabric.

Color Fixatives:

Salt Fixative (for berry dyes) 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water

Plant Fixatives (for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar

Add fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.

Dye Bath: Place wet fabric in dye bath. Simmer together until desired color is obtained. The color of the fabric will be lighter when its dry. Also note that all dyed fabric should be laundered in cold water and separately.

Muslin, silk, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes and the lighter the fabric in color, the better. White or pastel colors work the best.

NOTE: It’s best to use an old large pot as your dye vessel. Wear rubber gloves to handle the fabric that has been dyed, the dye can stain your hands. It’s also important to note, some plant dyes may be toxic, check with the Poison Control Center if unsure.

When your spinach isn’t as fresh as it used to be, use it to make homemade dye instead of tossing it out. That goes for your orange peels, lemon ends, even the first few leaves of that cabbage head (that have been manhandled at the grocery store). Fruits, vegetables, and flowers have been used for years to alter the color of clothing. And making homemade dyes is easy, it’s eco-friendly, and it costs basically nothing.

What You’ll Need:

  • Beet skins
  • Onion skins
  • Red cabbage leaves
  • Spinach
  • Orange peels
  • Small saucepans

Directions:

  1. Gather leftover bits of fruits and vegetables to use for making the dyes. You’ll want at least one chopped cup of each item to create a saturated dye. Blueberries, blackberries, and red cabbage create lovely blues. Raspberries and beets create red shades. Orange and lemon peels make light yellow or ochre dye. Spinach creates a nice green, and onion skins simmer into orange. You can also experiment with other items to see what colors you can create.
  1. Add the chopped ingredient to a small saucepan and cover with twice as much water as the fruit or vegetable. Place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer for one hour.
  1. Turn off the heat, and let water come to room temperature. Strain the cooled dyes into glass containers, and you’re ready to get coloring!
  1. To create long-lasting colored fabrics, place the article of clothing you’re planning on coloring in a fixative. For fruit dyes, simmer the fabric in 1/4 cup salt and 4 cups water. For vegetable dyes, simmer in one cup vinegar and four cups water. Boil for one hour.
  2. Rinse the article of clothing in cold water, and then let soak in the natural dye until it reaches desired color.

We created purple with the help of red cabbage leaves, green thanks to spinach, a bright red from beet trimmings, a nice orange from onion skins, and a slight yellow from orange peels. Use for creating beautifully dyed fabrics, making homemade face paints, or coloring Easter eggs.

Types of fabric to use

Not all fabric can be easily dyed with natural materials. The best ones to use are those made from natural materials themselves. Cotton, silk, wool and linen will take the dye the best. Synthetic blends will take some dye, but will usually be lighter in color. If you’re not sure and can risk the item you’re planning to dye, go ahead and do it. If it’s something valuable, try to find a similar scrap of fabric and try that first. I use a piece of muslin to gauge my color saturation before I dye my clothes. You can find muslin at any fabric store or online here.

Natural materials to use for dye

Not all natural materials will produce a dye, and some produce colors that are nothing like the original plant it came from. Here’s a list of colors and the plant material that will give you shades in that color.

Orange: carrots, gold lichen, onion skins
Brown: dandelion roots, oak bark, walnut hulls, tea, coffee, acorns
Pink: berries, cherries, red and pink roses, avocado skins and seeds (really!)
Blue: indigo, woad, red cabbage, elderberries, red mulberries, blueberries, purple grapes, dogwood bark
Red-brown: pomegranates, beets, bamboo, hibiscus (reddish color flowers), bloodroot
Grey-black: Blackberries, walnut hulls, iris root
Red-purple: red sumac berries, basil leaves, day lilies, pokeweed berries, huckleberries
Green: artichokes, sorrel roots, spinach, peppermint leaves, snapdragons, lilacs, grass, nettles, plantain, peach leaves
Yellow: bay leaves, marigolds, sunflower petals, St John’s Wort, dandelion flowers, paprika, turmeric, celery leaves, lilac twigs, Queen Anne’s Lace roots, mahonia roots, barberry roots, yellowroot roots, yellow dock roots
Note: You want to be sure to use ripe, mature plant material and always use fresh, not dried. Dried plant material will usually give you muted colors and sometimes no color at all. Chop the plant material very small to give you more surface area. If the plant is tough, like yellow dock roots, smash the root with a hammer to make it fiberous. This will also give you more exposed surface area. If you know you won’t need it for a while, but the plant is at its peak, like nettle, you can chop it up and freeze it for a few months. Just be sure to label it.

Prepare your fabric

Before you start the dyeing process, you’ll want to get your fabric ready. First, wash the fabric. Don’t dry it though – it needs to be wet. Then prepare your fixative or “mordant.” This is to help the fabric take up the dye more easily. For berries you’ll want to use salt and for any other plant material, you’ll want to use vinegar. Here are the measurements:

Salt: dissolve ½ cup salt in 8 cups cold water
Vinegar: blend 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts cold water
Place your damp fabric in the fixative solution for an hour. Rinse with cool water when done. Then, it’s time to dye the fabric.

The dyeing process

Before you start, cover the surface of your work area with newspaper. I use plastic sheeting too, because I don’t want to dye my counter tops. Be sure to wear gloves so you only color the fabric, not your hands. Then, prepare your dye.

Place the plant material in a large non-reactive pot (like stainless steel or glass). Remember the dye could stain some pots and spoons, so use these only for dyeing.
Fill pot with twice as much water as plant material.
Simmer for an hour or so, until you get a nice dark color.
Strain out the plant material and return the liquid to the pot.
Carefully place the fabric in the dye bath and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for an hour or so, stirring once in a while.
Check your fabric. Remember, it will be lighter when it dries. An hour should produce nice color, but darker hues can be achieved by allowing to sit longer, even overnight. Turn the pot off after an hour and allow fabric to sit in the warm water as long as needed.
When you get the color you want, take the fabric out and wash in cold water. Expect the color to run some as the excess dye is washed out
Dry as usual.