Back to Nature with DIY Project

Back to Nature with DIY Project​

People have been spending more time with their family as it is the holiday season. Maybe the kids are home due to the winter break. If you find yourself itching for a new DIY project, why not use this holiday season as an excuse to try something new? You can also use this project to potentially make gifts for your loved ones. Let’s get back to nature with DIY project. The simplicity of this craft makes it very appealing.

You will need a few pieces of equipment to get started:

  • Depending on how many dyes you want to make, you will need the same number of pots. Use a non-reactive pot such as stainless steel or glass.
  • Fresh, ripe plant materials – do not use dried plants. Dried plants are an option if you want muted tones, it will not be as vibrant as their fresh counterparts.
  • 100% Cotton T Shirt that is Prepared for Dyeing (PFD) – this means the cotton is naturally off white with no bleach or optic brighteners to make them appear whiter.
  • Tarp or other material to protect your work surface.
  • Paint Brushes (optional)
  • 100% Linen napkins (optional)

The process of dyeing is incredibly simple. Since the t-shirts are already PFD, you don’t need to pre-treat the fabric! Go ahead and throw your plants into the pot and fill it with twice as much water as the plant material. Simmer this concoction for at least an hour, you should see the color being extracted. Strain out the raw materials and place the liquid back in the pot.

Put your blank shirts or linens in the dye bath and bring it back to a slow boil. Simmering this for an hour will set the color in nicely. Only stir on occasion. At this point, you can always use a strip of fabric to test out the dye, remember that it will be a lighter color when it is fully dried. For darker hues, it is not uncommon to let the mixture sit overnight but you definitely want to keep that simmer going for at least an hour.

When you get the color you desire, simply take out your fabrics and rinse under cold water. Expect excess dyes to run out. Then dry your fabrics as you normally do. Gift the linens as a custom napkin set to friends or use them for your next holiday dinner. If using a root, you will need to mash the root to expose the pulp and colorant. Here is a list of convenient plants and the colors they provide:

  • Orange: Carrots, onion skins
  • Brown: Dandelion roots, oak bark, walnut hulls, tea, coffee, acorns
  • Pink: Cherries, red and pink roses, avocado skins and the seed
  • Blue: Red cabbage, elderberries, red mulberries, blueberries, purple grapes
  • Red-brown: Pomegranates, beets, bamboo, red hibiscus, bloodroot
  • Grey-black: Blackberries, walnut hulls
  • Red-purple: red sumac berries, basil leaves, daylilies, pokeweed berries, huckleberries
  • Green: Artichokes, spinach, peppermint leaves, lilacs, grass, nettles, plantain, peach leaves
  • Yellow: Bay leaves, marigolds, sunflower petals, dandelion flowers, paprika, turmeric, celery leaves.
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