tRK DIY: food-based tie-dye

by our contributor Kara Holbintiedyee
a great outdoor project for the fall
There are a multitude of things you can dye from paper to clothing and any types of fabrics in between. One of the best parts about natural dyeing is the fact that no harmful chemicals are being used and most of the ingredients can be found in your backyard! For this demo I chose to use BEETS because I love their natural magenta color and have used them in drawings and paintings before. Let’s Begin:

First things first. You need to prepare your fabrics. Natural dyes need a fixative in the fabric to stick to. This will hold (“fix”) the dye to the fabric so that it will not wash out in the future. For Berries you need to use a salt fixative. – Formula: 1/2 cup salt in 8 cups of water –

For plants you need to use a vinegar fixative. Since Beets are a root vegetable they fall under the plants category. – Formula: one part vinegar and four parts water. Bring this mixture to a boil and add your garments or fabrics into the pot and let them simmer for about an hour. For smaller garments (less water) it may be shorter and larger (more water) longer. Always keep an eye out to prevent the water from evaporating completely. If you keep the fabrics in the pot without any water they will burn! So be careful! After they are done, remove the fabrics and run them under cold water!

Next you need to prepare your dyes! There is also a formula for plants and berries and it is simple. Add twice as much water as your ingredients. I used two cups of beets and four cups of water. Bring all the ingredients to a boil and then let them simmer for about an hour. It may take less time to fully drain the pigment out of the plant so just keep checking the dye. Once the pigment has a full color you can strain the leftover plant materials. Let the dye sit for a bit so that you don’t burn yourself. After my beet dye was finished I poured some into a measuring cup because I wanted to only dye a few parts of the fabric not the entire garment. Then I used a few different techniques: splattering the shirt with the tip of a knife, just dipping the end of the shirt and then letting it drip down and tying the fabric in loose knots and pouring dye over it; Just to name a few. I encourage everyone to experiment and just have fun!

Finally let your fabrics dry (I left mine in the sun) and then wash and dry them separately and they’re good to go! Keep in mind the longer you let your materials sit in the dye the more prominent they will be. (you can even let them sit overnight if you want a really dark look) They will always dry lighter then they look wet.

Have Fun!


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