Natural Dyeing: Recipes

Plants and Color Effects

Everything effect the color! Where you pluck the leaf or flower from; where the sun touches the leaves; how much shade; is it a new or old plant? It's always different. It's always unique.

If you use a different mordant on the same plant, you'll get a different color result. If you harvest the plant from a different location, you see a different color reaction. Everything effects the color when using natural dyeing techniques.

Eight Basic Color Groups

Eight Basic Color Groups

Natural Dyeing Recipes

Here are a few simple natural dyeing recipes to get you started.

Calamint, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Marigolds, Ragweed, Wandering Jew, and Zinnia

Acorns Get your acorns in the fall! Soak them in water for a few days, then boil for one hour. Strain them out of the dye bath. Put your fabric in and hold the water just under a boil for 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour.

Apple Bark Can be used dried or fresh. You need to break the dried up into small pieces & soak overnight. Boil either for 1-2 hours and strain. Keep your fabric in the bath for an hour. (Yellow-gold colors)

Calamint, Southern Mountain Mint Use the stalks, leaves and flower heads either dried or fresh. Break up the plant and boil for about 20 minutes then strain. July and August give the best plants.

Dandelion Root Use the roots fresh only. With an alum mordant you're going to get a red-violet.

Hollyhock Using the flower heads will give you a nice red; one pound of flower heads with an alum mordant. The leaves produce a yellow-green.

Larkspur This wonderful plant found along roadsides gives a very nice blue. The 'juice' from the petals, with alum, is a method/recipe from the original days of dyeing.

Leaves A full bucket of any leaves, boiled hard for about an hour, will give you colors from pinky-tan to yellow-gold.

Marigolds The garden variety kind, fresh or dried will give you from pale yellow to rich orange - depending on the mordant. Use between one quart to 1/2 bushel of flower heads. The more you use, the deeper the color. Cook about 15 minutes; strain and add your fabric. Simmer until the color you want is achieved.

Red Oak Use the bark and roots to discover a good shade of 'chocolate' brown. Soak and boil as with other bark, before adding your fabric.

Ragweed Besides causing us to sneeze, we can secure a good green from all the mordants by adding some copperas. It almost makes the sneezing worth-while!

St. John's Wort Used after its been dried, produced a warm orange shade. As popular as it's become, you might have a difficult time finding the plant itself though.

Wandering Jew Used with a Tin mordant, the purple backed plant gives us an incredible deep sea green!

Zinnia You can use the flower heads fresh or dried. Alum helps produce a light yellow and chrome a much darker shade with almost a greenish cast! Use about one pound of flower heads to one pound of fabric.