How To Make Natural Dye for Textiles

There’s a little artist living in each of us. Especially when directions to different DIY projects are only a click away. I particularly enjoy to DIY and experiment. At the same time, I like to keep the environment free of unnecessary chemicals. My preference in textile materials is natural. Therefore, upcycling some of my old clothes, bedding, and curtains with natural dye techniques is a perfect match to prolong their life and make them even more vibrant.

Choosing natural materials to match with natural dyes is important as natural colors won’t stay on firmly on other materials. Also, with further washings, they could potentially ruin your other clothes. The best materials for dying would be wool, cotton, linen, and silk. Also, for dyes use fresh, ripe plants (dried don’t have the same properties anymore).

Here are some of the ingredients I have used and also things I have learned about these dyes through the process. Some of them even have medicinal properties that I’ll be able to put to use in the future. I always like a good informative DIY project.

I decided I want my sheets to be a deep shade of red, so I used black elderberry berries. Starting out the dye process you could even think of what stains are not easily removed from clothes and the colors they leave on behind.

1. First, dampen or wash the fabric you wish to dye (don’t dry it through completely).

2. Place the plants, black elderberry berries in this case, to a stainless pot and fill up with twice the amount of water. Bring to boil and let simmer until it is pretty dark. 

3. Then dip the fabric in for as long as it is two shades darker than you would want it to be. Keep in mind that the finished dye will lighten up.

4. Dry as usual. 

5. You have a fabulously re-made piece of clothing or upholstery.

Did you also know that black elderberry contains the most Vitamin B out of all the plants? I’ve learned that from the research before the dye process. It is one of the rare plants that can be fully consumed. The one thing to keep off your menu are fresh berries, but boiled in tea even have healing properties. Black elderberry tea helps with treating scarlet fever, flu, and measles. It even helps to ease the pain of rheumatism and prevents from UTI. As well as works as a diuretic when constipated. Flowers which can be gathered in June are a great addition to scrambled eggs. Bark in February and March. Berries in September – try making jam of it, it is delicious. Leaves in April and May. And roots all from February until November.

I enjoyed a warm cup of black elderberry tea while waiting for the bedding to dry. It initially turned out just the way I hoped. If you wish to attain similarly dark tone another dark violet dye might come of blackberries.

While you’re picking ripe berries during the months of August in September, as there is quite some work to get to a handful of these tiny berries, you could consider drying a few for possible future use. For example, its juice helps with easing the pain while overcoming angina. While blackberry tea is moreover a great thirst quencher as well as works soothingly on digestion.

There are also other colors, plants and different techniques I experimented with. While my kitchen was already half a mess, I died some linen curtains lightly green using sage. I also gradually took the curtains out of the coloring pan in order to achieve an ombre effect. The smell of sage was actually pretty soothing. I learned that sage moreover treats weak lungs and glands when clearing throat with it. It also works preventively against stroke. It clears blood and removes slime from the body. And stops bleeding gums when applied fresh or in a toothpaste. Lightly infused sage tea promotes sweating, while strongly steeped tea prevents it. It is known to calm down when excessively nervous. The one time to better avoid it is when young mothers are trying to breastfeed as it is known to clog the milk pores.

As there could be all the colors of the rainbow found in nature, there could be different tones attained by natural dyes. Let your imagination run wild a little and create textiles that blend with nature seamlessly. I always find contentment in projects that bring my old textiles to life. There is a little less waste and at the end of the day, I have a new piece of clothing or upholstery ready to show off. Win-win, right?