Dyeing fabric with natural dyes: a little DIY

Sunday I did a little experiment. I tried to dye a cute cotton doily I've found in a thrift shop a while back. To be gentle towards the environment I used food dye, the same one used to paint eggs for Easter. I picked a sachet of blue colour and I decided to try to obtain some effects with it. So I folded the piece and wrapped some string on it.
I boiled some water and then in a large bowl I mixed the water with the dye and rock salt. Rock salt (or vinegar) helps the colour to stay on the fabric.
I left it soak for a few minutes and then I rinsed the piece, unwrapped it and hang it to dry.
As you can see in the last pic the final colour is very pale and a bit minty compare to what the dye looked like in the water. 
I kind of like the effects on the fabric, the unevenness of the dye. Probably I should have pulled the string much tighter to obtain a stringer effect. 
So the final result is not at all as I imagined it but I had great fun in doing something very different. 
Did you ever try dyeing anything? Do you have any suggestions on how to?


  1. I hadn't thought about using food dye before - I really like the idea, especially for kitchen items and other things I'd worry about chemicals on! :) I did dye some t-shirts not long ago, following this tutorial ( http://www.u-createcrafts.com/2011/08/creative-guest-watermark-tee-by-sweet.html ) to get a resist-effect - which worked well for writing, but failed pretty badly at large solid shapes. I used RIT dye (cheap fabric dye), and had the same problem you did though, the color was MUCH lighter than expected, even after letting the shirts soak forever. I'm sure buying professional fabric dyes would do better, but like you, I didn't really mind the unexpected outcome lol. Thanks for sharing your experiment!

  2. What a fun project, I really like how the colour turned out! I want to try dip-dying a shirt. Do you know if the food dye holds in the washing machine?

    1. No I really don't think the food dye will hold if washed in the machine.

  3. I love this! I've been thinking about getting into dying as it goes along with knitting and weaving. Thanks for the cute idea!


please leave a comment here. I would love to hear from you!