Dyeing Fabric Naturally: here's the process

Aug 03, 2023

Imagine soaking the fabric or yarn you will be using to make something for a loved one in a pot of flower water and getting the most beautiful (and permanent) colors from it! You are saturating those materials in the beauty and energy of that plant. I love the idea of creating with nature. 

I became obsessed with natural fabric dyeing several years ago after falling deeply in a creative rut. This practice reignited my creativity, helped me connect with nature, and allowed me to weave my love of nature into my art. 

It is not a hard process, but there are some key steps required to ensure the colors you get from the plants are as vibrant as possible and as color-fast as possible. Meaning the color won't wash out or fade significantly. If you skip one or all of these steps, your color may be uneven, could wash out, or you may not get any color at all. However, if you include each step, you should get vibrant and permanent colors in both your yarn and fabric dyeing.

Be sure to use a pot and stirring tools reserved only for dyeing, not cooking. Many plants are toxic when ingested, so pick up some pots and tools from your local second hand shop and reserve them only for dyeing. The only exception is if you are dyeing with coffee, onion skins, or tea, that will be fine in your kitchen pot (but not with a mordant). 

Alright, let's dive into the Natural Fabric Dyeing Process!

Natural Fabric Dyeing Process:


The first step in the process is scouring, or pre-washing your fabric to ensure dirt, oils, and starches have been removed. This allows for a nice, even dye. If using PDF (prepared for dyeing) or RTD (ready to dye) fabrics, you can skip this step, if desired.



This is the most important step! This is the pre-treatment of your fabrics or yarn to ensure the dye adheres permanently. The mordanting process is a bit different depending on the type of fiber you are using. I walk through the entire mordanting process in my Natural Fabric Dyeing Curriculum: Imbue (found in my online guild & school, Meander).



This is where all the fun happens. Using any number of dye plants and recipes, you can dye any color in the rainbow. Download my free Getting Started with Natural Fabric Dyeing Guide for an extensive list of natural dye ingredients and plants you can dye with!



An optional step in which you shift the color of your dyed fabric. This allows you to get a wider spectrum of colors from the same dyes. 



The final step is to wash out all excess dye to ensure your fabrics and yarns won't bleed in the future. 


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Get the Natural Fabric Dyeing Guide 

Want more info on Natural Fabric Dyeing? Grab my Getting Started with Natural Fabric Dyeing Guide! You'll learn the overall process as well as dozens and dozens of plants and other natural ingredients you can use to dye the rainbow!

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