Dye Job, au naturale. Part deux!

With the rise in popularity of my Natural Fabric Dyes chart on Pinterest and Etsy itself (!) pinning it along with my instructions on their DIY Projects board, I thought I might do a repost and update on ‘Dye Job, Au Naturale.’

Etsy DIY Projects board on Pinterest featuring Anjou's Natural Fabric Dyes chart

Etsy’s DIY Projects board on Pinterest featuring Anjou’s Natural Fabric Dyes chart

The original post with instructions on how to dye natural fabrics with fruits, veggies, and plants can be found here.  Below is the original chart (purple is lavender, yellow is tumeric):

Natural Fabric Dyes DIY

Natural Fabric Dyes by Anjou

Now, for the updates!

The red cabbage pictured on the chart is an example of the fully saturated color on cotton/linen, but I must confess: I am absolutely head-over-heels for the wonderfully pinkish lilac it produces when lightly applied to silk crepe de chine.  I used about half the amount and dyed for only 15 minutes for the light lilac color that is more similar to the color produced by lavender.  Here are some photos of my process as well as the loose tunic I made from the fabric with a portrait of Clara Bow that I hand-painted in silkscreen ink on the front.

Red Cabbage DIY fabric dye

Red cabbage for DIY fabric dyeing

Red Cabbage in pot chopped for DIY fabric dye

Boiling the chopped red cabbage to make DIY lilac fabric dye

Silk soaking in red cabbage dye for diy fabric dye

Silk crepe de chine soaking in red cabbage dye

Silk dyed with red cabbage

Silk crepe de chine dyed lilac with red cabbage dye on the drying rack

Clara Bow shirt DIY

It Girl tunic. Dye, design, and portrait by Anjou

I also experimented with brighter and bolder organic fabric dyes that I ordered from Dharma Trading Co. (an amazing DIY supplies site – excellent customer service and a huge selection of crafty goodies including the natural silk crepe de chine that I use), but I unfortunately haven’t had time to make anything from the fabric quite yet.  I absolutely LOVE how it turned out though.

Cobalt blue dye Dharma Trading Co

Cobalt blue dye from Dharma Trading Co. mixed with H2O and vinegar

DIY dying fabric silk

Drip-dying silk crepe de chine with Dharma Trading Co. organic dye

DIY dyed silk

Wet silk crepe de chine dyed via drip-dying method with organic dye

DIY dyed silk

Dried and ironed silk crepe de chine drip-dyed with organic dyes from Dharma Trading Co.

DIY silk dye

Naturally dyed lilac silk crepe de chine (red cabbage) and organically drip-dyed cobalt silk crepe de chine (Dharma Trading Co.)

DIY silk dye

Naturally dyed lilac silk crepe de chine (red cabbage) and organically drip-dyed cobalt silk crepe de chine (Dharma Trading Co.)

And just a few notes:

I was asked on the original post about mordants and natural plants whose color may vary depending on the fabric type used and my short answer is: make it easy!  There’s no need to get scientific about the process unless you would like very specific results.  And then, I would say, head over to Dharma Trading Co. and check out their precise organic dyes and instructions.  Otherwise, keep it fresh, follow the chart, and expect a beautifully unprocessed and, most likely, wonderfully flawed result.  The basic process is pre-soak your fabric in water, boil the foodstuffs, add salt or vinegar, strain the food, and then soak the fabric in the dye!  Easy breezy.  And the washed out, uneven coloration makes for one heck of a unique and pretty fabric.

There are many other fruits, veggies, and plants (and even things like dirt, chestnut hulls, etc.) that you can experiment with; the chart just shows my preferred sources and approximate resulting colors.  Depth of hue will depend on the amount of salt/vinegar you add, the dye:water ratio, and the length of time you let the fabric soak.

Enjoy this summer’s bountiful produce!



  1. mothcaterpillar says:

    wow! It Girl tunic looks really cute and pretty! :-)

    • Thanks!! I stopped making it because it was so time-consuming to hand dye the fabric, paint the portrait, and sew the tank together, but I still love it :)

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