Fabric dye DIY.

The sun finally came out so I decided to spend some time in the garden messing about with turmeric and indulging in my newest DIY crush – dyeing fabric.


I’d dabbled in a bit of tie-dyeing many, many years ago and I like the look of ombre (or dip dye) but after reading this post about Shibori, I was convinced this was the one. It has a subtlety that really appeals to me, especially the Arashi technique. I also keen to try out organic dyes, using plants and spices so I dug out some white fabric, salt and a load of turmeric.  And it was a lot easier than I expected.

First, I tied my fabric. I was experimenting a bit so I tried (or rather, I made up) a couple of dye resist techniques. I messily pleated and then pegged one piece.The other pieces are wrapped round pieces of wood then scrunched down and finally tied round with string. I left one piece untied.

Next I soaked the fabric in salt and hot water for about half an hour so the dye would take. Most of the info on the internet suggests using salt for berry-based dyes and vinegar for plant-based dyes.

While the fabric soaked, I prepped the dye by mixing about three tablespoons of turmeric in 500 ml of just boiled water and stirred for 5 minutes. I poured this into a large tub and added about 3 litres of hot water until the tub was full.

By the time I’d done that 30 minutes had passed so I took the fabric out of the salt water fixative, rinsed it and put it in the dye bath. Do not untie it yet!

I was pretty excited to see the results and, as I’m the sort of person who reads the last pages of books, I was surprised I managed to stop myself from taking the fabric out too soon. But I did. After 90 minutes, I took it out, untied and rinsed in cold water until it ran clear. I’ll have to update this after I’ve washed it properly but the colour took really well. It’s a brilliant yellow, just what I needed after such a long grey winter. Not so sure about the patterns the dye made but it’s all a learning process.

Turmeric dye

The piece above was the piece I pegged together, I’ll probably use it as part of my colour-blocking revolution.

Turmeric dye

This is a work-in-progress Drape Drape Top (Book 1 No. 13) which I modified a bit so it’s not so loose. This was wrapped around a thin piece of wood and tied with string in an attempt at Arashi, however, it resisted the dye a little too well in the middle. Not entirely convinced but I’ll have to see what it looks like on. I can always re-dye it anyway and add a bit more colour in the middle.

It was a fun way to be out in the garden and hang out with the cats for a bit. They kind of lose their kitty minds at the first sign of spring so there was a lot of chasing of bees and trying to attack bits of string. Not so many mind games and not so much bullying so was nice for a change.

Peeping Tom Cat.


About Vanessa

Sewing and assorted nonsense. For reasons that escape me, I left the sunshine and beaches of Australia for the crisps and glitter of London in 2001. I now live in the middle of some kind of feline drop-in centre in East London battling for space to make costumes and clothes. Over on twitter and instagram as @smittenness Email over here ------> smittenness@gmail.com
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4 Responses to Fabric dye DIY.

  1. Gjeometry says:

    Oh so pretty, and sunny looking! And, that pic of your kitty…..oh my goodness, ADORBS!!!! Kitty says, You must enlarge and frame, IMMEDIATELY!

  2. CherryPix says:

    That vibrant yellow is magic!! as is the little peekaboo nose!

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