novacaincosplay (novacaincosplay) wrote in egl,

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Making your own dye

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well!

So I recently got an assignment in my textiles class to make my own dye, and I decided to share my results with you as long as the recipes I used.

What you will need:

·         A T-shirt

·         Salt (if the dye is made of berries)

·         Vinegar (if the dye is made of plants or herbs)

·         A large pot (note: This pot may end up stained the color of the dye you make, so don’t use a new one)

·         Material for making dye (the site Pioneer Thinking has a nice list of things you can use, but doesn’t list quantities, so it’s very hit and miss at first)

If making a dye out of berries

You need to soak the shirt in a solution of ½-cup salt to 8 cups water for a couple of hours. This will help the color set in the fabric.

If making a dye out of plants or herbs

You will need to soak the shirt in a solution of 4 cups water for 1-cup vinegar for a couple hours.

I took 3 t-shirts, which I was planning on turning into cutsews if the dye turned out well. They’re all from the fabric store, and they’re all 100% cotton.

soaking the shirt
I look so lolita in this picture XP

While the shirts are soaking, you can make the dye, here’s my recipe for blue berries (which makes a nice lavender color):

·         2 cups smashed blueberries

·         4 cups cold water

Essentially you need to have double the water for your materials, so if you have 2 cups of strawberries, you need 4 cups water, if you have 6 cups snapdragon flowers, you need 12 cups water.

smashing blueberries

I smashed the blueberries with a knife before adding them to my water. Besides, I’m not sure if you just threw them in whole that they’d really make a nice dye.

I suggest cutting up everything before you add it to the water.

After adding the blueberries to the pot I turned the burner on to the highest setting and allowed the water to come to a boil, before stirring it with a spoon and simmering it on low heat for an hour.

blueberries pre-simmer
after simmering

After the dye has simmered, strain the liquid into a bowl. You don’t want whole blueberries in the water with your shirt because you’ll end up with dark colored spots.


Pour the dye back into the pot and turn the heat to the lowest setting (I turned my stove down to 1 because I was scared that if I added a shirt on a higher heat to the dye it would burst into flames). Take the shirt you were soaking, wring it out a little and add it to the pot of dye. Don’t add a dry shirt because your color will not spread evenly.

Let simmer for 1-2 hours, making sure the shirt is covered by the dye.
adusting the shirt so that it soaks evenly

If you’re like me and using a huge pot and very little water, you’ll have to stir and adjust the shirt (while wearing rubber gloves) around every 15 minutes to ensure even color.

Remove the shirt from the pot and rinse in cold water until the water runs clear. Then hang to dry (I placed a bucket and rags under the shirt so that if it dripped it didn’t stain my bathroom floor).

If you look at my shirt you can see that it was kind of a burgundy color until it dried, and then it became a light lavender. If you soaked the shirt in the dye overnight (with the heat off while you’re asleep) then you would probably end up with a darker color.
dark spots...

Washing instructions:

This will need to be washed in cold water, separately, because it might bleed dye.

Other dyes I’ve tried:

·         6, 0.55oz containers of Tumeric

·         8 cups water

Wow. This turned everything VERY yellow. It dyed my hands, my fingernails, my pot, my spoon, my gloves, my bowl, and my counter top. Be VERY CAREFUL with this dye.

On the Brightside, it did make a very nice yellow.

This is my first tutorial, so I'm sorry if it's not written very well! Feel free to ask me any questions!


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