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One of the simplest things you can do is dye something a new colour. You wouldn't believe how much change this can make, and will have you wearing it again all the time.

However, there is just one problem with this. Most textile dyes that you buy in a shop are filled with a LOT of nasty chemicals, which after the dyeing process are most likely going to end up down your drain and washed into our waterways. This defeats the purpose of upcycling clothes to stop them from going to waste, if you will be polluting in the process.

1. What can be dyed?

Any light-coloured (preferably white) natural fibers will take natural dyes.

2. What Can Be Used as Natural Dyes?

Something extremely cool about natural dyes is that many of the ingredients could be found right in your own back yard! Roots, nuts and flowers are just a few common natural ways to get many colours. A visit to the grocery store and you have endless options at your fingertips.

Here are just a few materials you can use (and the colors you'll get with each).

Onion skins (yellow/orange) Eucalyptus (all parts, leaves and bark) shades of tan, deep rust red, yellow, green, orange and chocolate brown. Butternut squash husks (yellow/orange) Dandelion roots (brown) Coffee grounds/tea (brown) Bougainvillea (pink) Avocado from skin and seed (a light pink hue) Walnut hulls (brown) Strawberries/cherries (pink) Roses (pink) Lavender (pink) Red cabbage (blue/purple) Hyacinth flowers (blue) Beets (deep red) Any red leaf (reddish brown) Daylily blooms (red/purple) Artichokes (green) Red clover (gold) Bamboo (turkey red) Celery leaves (yellow)

3. How to Get Started Dyeing


  • Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain and return dye to the pot.


  • To get the fabric ready for the dye bath, you will have to soak the fabric in a colour fixative before the dye process. This will make the colour set in the fabric.

  • If you're using berries to dye your fabric, you have to use a salt fixative. Put 1/2 cup salt in 8 cups of water. Put your fabric in here and boil for one hour.

  • If you're using plants to dye your fabric, you have to use a vinegar fixative. Combine one part vinegar and four parts water, and boil the fabric in the mixture for one hour.

  • When your fabric is done, rinse it out under cold water.

  • Place wet fabric in dye bath. Simmer together until desired color is obtained. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight. Then, wash the fabric separately and put it to dry. The color of the fabric becomes lighter when its dry


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