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Making Natural Dyes


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I was wondering if anyone can help me. I want to make some natural dyes with my class after half term. Does anyone know how to make them and what to use?


Thank you xx

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I have used simple things like beetroot and onion skins, turmeric etc. They aren't colour fast, so wont withstand washing unless you use a mordant (to fix the colour). I wouldn't do this with children as a number of the mordants are toxic. Contrary to popular belief, salt doesn't 'fix' dyes. Therefore I wouldn't use them for dying clothes, bt they would be fine for batiks, tie/dye etc.


It would be quite easy to get some very simple cotton (we used old cotton sheets cut up into squares) and experimented with different things. I cant remember the website I got some of my info from, maybe someone else will know?


DO let us know how it goes

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There is an earlier discussions on this, not sure how to link but this is my information.


I have had loads of fun experimenting with dye stuffs with a year six science club here are some brief notes on our findings.



cut up dye material bring to the boil and simmer until the water is a good dark colour; leave to cool.

put in washed cotton and leave to take up die, this can be helped by simmering again.

rinse excess die and dry (away from sun light); most of the colour will come out so try to get the cloth as dark as possible. You can over dye to darken or change the colour.



red onion skin, blackberries, red cabbage, beetroot all give a pink colour, in hard water some vinegar or lemon juice may be needed to stop the die turning blue/grey adding soap may give a blue die but I have found it fades to grey very quickly

red fruit tea bags give a pink die and an interesting speckled effect can be made by opening the bag and spreading the contents out to dry on the cloth.

coffee, tea, and onion skins will die various shades of brown,

carrot gives orange

turmeric gives a very satisfying yellow, just mixing it with cold water!

privet will give a pale green


We found there are lots of natural die stuffs that are fun and safe to use, their main problem is that they are not stable and many wash out and fade quickly, so becareful where you display the finished articles.(the use of mordants can help overcome this but these are usually poisonous so no use for early years)We were not very good at being precise with measurements and I'm afraid with natural dye stuffs the results are very difficult to replicate excactly so you will need to experiment.


PS since post I have been in early years and found fruit tea bags are great: easily available, they will work cold and the children can use them independently, you may need to warn parents about coloured fingers always wear aprons!!!!


good luck Fay

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