How to Dye Clothes Naturally

by ROBERTA AND REBECCA KELLER

Red- Pomegranates, bamboo, beets, and hibiscus flowers can dye clothing red.  In the early 1800s, beets especially were used to dye makeup products such as blusher a reddish tint.  Beets were boiled along with the fabric they wanted dyed or crushed into a powder as makeup.

Orange- Carrots, gold lichen, and even onion can be used to dye fabric orange.  Turmeric was actually the most common substance used to create yellow fabric, but it was mainly used by upper class members.  Turmeric in powder form was boiled along with cotton fabric to give it a goldenrod tone.

Yellow- Bay leaves, marigolds, sunflower petals, dandelion flowers, paprika, turmeric, celery leaves, and Queen Anne’s Lace roots can be used to turn fabric yellow.  These yellow materials found in nature were used to create makeup and even dye hair by crushing or juicing the materials until they could be boiled or added directly to the fabric.

Green- Artichokes, spinach, peppermint leaves, snapdragons, lilacs, and grass dye fabric green was used mainly in art and to dye clothing.  Peppermint was the most common source of green dye, as peppermint leaves were crushed and boiled with white fabric.  Again, green dyed clothing was rare as really only nobility could afford the large amount of peppermint leaves used.

Blue- Indigo, woad, red cabbage, elderberries, red mulberries, blueberries, purple grapes, and dogwood bark were used in the early 1900s to dye denim a blueish tint.  The most popular of the dyes, indigo, became widely used and the number of indigo farms in the middle east increased drastically.

Indigo- Indigo is mainly used to naturally dye fabric indigo, just greater amounts of it than that used to dye fabric blue.  Indigo has been used all throughout history and marked a sense of wealth throughout Europe, as indigo was in all senses considered a luxury.

Violet- Basil, blackberries, and cherry tree roots are common materials used to dye fabric purple.  Blackberry are most commonly used to dye fabrics purple by crushing the ripe berries so that their juices can be directly applied to fabric and used similarly to the tulip dyes we will be using tomorrow by indigenous peoples of the northwest plateau.

Black- Blackberries, walnut hulls, iris root can dye cotton a blackish tint.  Walnut hulls were especially known to be used to decorate the bodies of Native Americans living in the midwest and upper peninsula.