Yesterday I participated in a TweetChat, sponsored by Creating the Hive. I met a delightful bunch of ladies and there was a lot of discussion about upcycling old items into “new” items. A Mrs. Scrimp, from the blog Scrimpalicious, and I discussed fabric dyes made from foods and plants. My Cousin Cate was famous for her kitchen-made dyes, and her third wedding dress was a brilliant red made with beets and rhododendrons.
Unable to contact Cate, as is normal with most of my relatives (only available when it’s inconvenient), I did a bit of research to find recipes for kitchen-made dyes. Here is what I came up with.
From Becky Striepe at greenupgrader:
The key to making those natural dyes color-fast when dyeing fabric is using a fixative, and you can find the ingredients for this in your kitchen cupboard, too! Just boil your fabric in salty water (about 1/2c salt to 8c water will do). Vinegar works, as well. Use 1c vinegar in 8c water. Now, it’s ready to dye!
How to Dye Your Fabric
Making the dye is simple enough, but it will take some experimenting to get the color just how you want it. Boil your fruit, veggie, or spice of choice in water to create your dye. This will take a couple of hours.
Once the dye is the color you want, you’re ready to simmer the fabric. This can be quick or take more than an hour, depending on how dark you want the fabric. Keep an eye on your pot until you achieve the color you’re after. You might want to go even a bit darker, since some of the dye will rinse out.
Remove your dyed fabric from the water, rinse it until the water runs clear, then hang it to dry. Voila! You’ve now got custom-dyed fabric that’s ready to sew!
Over at The Steampunk Workshop, Libby Bulloff likes to use onion peels and tea leaves to dye old petticoats and tuxedo shirts. She also discusses mordants, so this is a good read for the kitchen textile artist.
Yesterday, someone suggested using Kool-aid as a dye. I can’t keep Kool-aid and other powdered drink mixes in the house – amazingly, great horned owls go batty for packets of flavor – but this article explains how to dye, dye, dye with the stuff. (Paula Burch’s website is a robust resource for information from dyeing to botanicals.)
Since many of my shirts boast a variety of coffee and tea stains, I’m considering trying my hand at caffeinated dyes. I always wear a lab coat or other protective gear in the Laboratory (for obvious reasons), but somehow I get messiest when settled into my chair with a cuppa and a book.
My only advice to you would be this: use dedicated pots for dyeing that are separate from your cooking pots. And keep extra berries around for snacking whilst you dye. Do write to me and send me pictures of your experiments. I love fellow explorers.
Dye hard, dye with your boots on, get rich and dye trying, and always dye laughing.
I’m done. I promise. Forgive me.