Being eco and zero waste really shouldn’t be about buying more stuff, although it’s hard when you first start off on the journey to zero waste to not be pulled in. Of course there is so many great new things to try and at first it may seem like your buying one thing after another to replace items that have ran out. I try and stick to the famous slogan ‘Make do and Mend’. I am having fun at the moment trying to make everything from scratch.
I have been looking at pretty rolls of unpaper towels, but it’s something I don’t absolutely need, and I had a large stash of old muslin cloths lying around, so I thought I would give them a new lease of life with some natural plant dyes.
They look lovely in a basket, in easy reach, for all kinds of uses, napkins, mopping up spills etc. Anything you would have used paper kitchen roll for these can easily take over the job.
All you need is some old cloths, cut up muslins etc. You will need to pop a hem on them so they don’t fray.
Now to the dyes, I had every intention of making all the colours, but as you can see I got carried away with pinks and purples, all the colours are included below for you to try.
Natural dyes can be made from so many natural goodies, berries, leaves and flowers.
Here are some muslin cloths I dyed last year to use as play cloths, these were made using berries and avocado seeds.
Here are some produce bags I made using old muslins and tumeric and onion skins as a natural dye.
You can use most fabric, cotton, silk, wool and linen will take to dye well, other fabrics also, but the outcome may be lighter with synthetic fabrics.
Before you dye you fabric you will need to prep it. It’s really simple;
Firstly you will need to wash the fabric, leaving it wet. Now you need to prepare your fixative. This ensures the fabric will hold the dye more easily.
For berries salt is used, for any other plant material/powders white vinegar is used.
Measurements are as follows.
Salt: dissolve ½ cup salt in 8 cups cold water
Vinegar: Mix 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts cold water.
The fabric needs to soak in this mix for 1 hour. Rinse with cold water only, it’s now ready to be dyed.
A quick google of natural fabric dyes will have you inspired in no time, below I will include the dyes I have tried and tested with great results.
Beetroot – Bright Pink
Raspberries – Red/Pink Colour
Brown Onion – Brown/Orange
Tumeric – Yellow
Matcha Tea Powder – Green
Blueberries – Pinky Purple
Avocado skins and seeds – Peachy Pink
Red Cabbage – Purple
You can have so much fun with this and discover a variety of materials to play with.
A little word of warning before you begin. You may want to cover your work surfaces, wear gloves and use old pans. Obviously I’m adding this after I’ve created mess on a devastating scale and dyed everything, worktops, hands and pans!
Here is how to make the dye.
Place the natural material in a large pot/ pan.
Fill the pot with twice as much water as plant material.
Let this simmer for an hour or so, or until you see a nice dark color.
Strain the plant material and return the liquid to the pot.
Place your fabric in the dye and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.
Check your fabric, bearing in mind it will be lighter when it dries. The longer you leave it the darker it will go, so you could leave it to soak overnight if you wanted a really dark hue. All of mine were soaked for an hour, I’m impatient.
Take out your fabric and wash in cold water. The colour will run and fade slightly.
Dry as usual.
You should now have a stack of eco friendly, pretty reusable cloths! Yay! I hope you have enjoyed this, I’d love to know if you make some.
Thanks so much for reading,