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The Botanical Way – Natural Dye Recipes

For some time I have been thinking of ways to share some of natural dye knowledge, but I’ve been suffering a bit from ‘impostor syndrome’ as I am entirely self-taught (anyone else feel this sometimes?). But lately I’ve come to realise that working with natural dyes is a process that varies so greatly that realistically just doing it is the only way to learn. So with that in mind, I’ve been putting together some natural, simple dye recipes that anyone can follow. They are a little introduction into fabric dyeing in a more ecologically and ethically sound way, and I very much hope that many of you will look forward to trying some of them out.

I don’t use lots of chemical mordants (ways to fix the colour to fabric) as I work from home with my young daughter around, so it was important to me that whatever I made, not only could she join in too, but that I didn’t have to worry too much about there being lots of horrid substances around the house that she could come across. With that in mind most of my dyes are either made from foraged plants, berries and bark, or are made from our left over food stuffs (you’ll be amazed at what colours simple fruits, pulses and vegetables can produce!).

Dyeing with Tea

First in my recipe series is how to dye fabric with tea. This is one of the easiest natural dyes to start with as it requires no extra help in fixing the colour to the fabric, and it remains reasonably colourfast as tea contains a lot of natural tannins.

You can produce light golden hues through to deep orange/brown shades depending on the strength of your tea and the amount of time you leave the fabric in the dye pot. It’s also very apt for me as I adore tea and always have it around (I honestly can’t even have a conversation in the morning until I’ve had my first cup!).

It’s a staple of most kitchens so you don’t even need to go out and buy anything extra. And, as a food stuff you can even use your own normal pots and utensils to follow the recipe.

My Tea Dyeing Results

Here I decided to dye some some muslin I had left over from another project, and then use them as napkins.

I just teased the edges apart to give a nice frayed edge. 

You will achieve different shades on different fabrics – it can be fun to put several different ones in the pot and see how they come out. This silk ribbon tying the cutlery was also dyed with tea and has given a lovely warm golden hue.

If you’d like the full ‘how to‘ along with a beautiful recipe card (and botanical illustration I couldn’t resist drawing to accompany it), then you can purchase them in my shop. Anyone that buys a recipe card will be invited to join my The Botanical Way Facebook Group where I can help and advise you on the recipes, as well as offering you exclusive access to further materials. And of course I’d love for you to post your dyeing results in the group too!

I will be adding to the series regularly (at least once a month) so you can build a full library of natural dye recipes in a variety of lovely shades to suit the seasons. We’ll begin with some of the easier recipes and build your knowledge over time.

Join in

Please do post your dyeing experiments in the comments below, in the Facebook Group or tag me on Instagram @katecullenstyle with the hashtag #botanicalway – I will be giving the next recipe card free to one of you using the tag and hashtag and will post my favourites here and on Instagram!

Follow all The Botanical Way Recipes here on my Pinterest Board:


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