Tie-Dyeing with Simone - May 3, 2020

Thanks to everyone who joined our tie-dye tutorial on Zoom! We'll be posting how-to clips from the workshop, so check back within a few days for videos in which Simone demonstrates a couple of different techniques.

If you'd like to get started on a dye project in the meantime, see below for a list of supplies, directions for preparing your dyes, and directions for preparing your fabrics.


Whether you are going to make natural dyes or buy some traditional fabric dyes from Amazon or your local art supply store, everyone will need the following items:

  • Fabric to dye: Whatever you want to dye, such as dish towels, socks, underwear, tee shirts, pillowcases. We recommend choosing fabrics made 100% of natural fibers, but if you plan on dyeing something synthetic, make sure you buy the right dye for the fabric composition.  
  • Dyes: See below for more details.
  • Rubber bands
  • Gloves
  • Bags: To let the dyed pieces soak in. They will need to sit overnight. Keep in mind these containers will probably get stained, so don’t use anything you care about. 
  • Squeeze bottles or buckets: You can use buckets if you want an all-over dye effect, but you will need squeeze bottles if you want to dye with multiple colors.
  • A paint brush
  • For natural dyes: salt if you are dyeing with berries, vinegar if you are dyeing with any other plant material

Natural dye options

  • Orange: carrots, gold lichen, onion skins
  • Brown: dandelion roots, oak bark, walnut hulls, tea, coffee, acorns
  • Pink: berries, cherries, red and pink roses, avocado skins and seeds (really!)
  • Blue: indigo, woad, red cabbage, elderberries, red mulberries, blueberries, purple grapes, dogwood bark
  • Red-brown: pomegranates, beets, bamboo, hibiscus (reddish color flowers), bloodroot
  • Grey-black: blackberries, walnut hulls, iris root
  • Red-purple: red sumac berries, basil leaves, daylilies, pokeweed berries, huckleberries
  • Green: artichokes, sorrel roots, spinach, peppermint leaves, snapdragons, lilacs, grass, nettles, plantain, peach leaves
  • Yellow: bay leaves, marigolds, sunflower petals, St John’s Wort, dandelion flowers, paprika, turmeric, celery leaves, lilac twigs, Queen Anne’s Lace roots, mahonia roots, barberry roots, yellowroot roots, yellow dock roots


For  store-bought dyes:

  1. Soak your fabric. 
  2. Prepare your dyes by following the instructions on the packaging, and then have them ready in squeeze bottles (for multi-color dye jobs) or buckets (for single-color dye jobs). 

For natural dyes: 

  1. Wash your fabric and leave it wet.
  2. Prepare your fixative or mordant. This helps the fabric takes natural dyes more easily. If you are using berries as a dye, dissolve of salt in 8 cups of cold water to make your fixative. If you are using any other plant material, mix 1 part white vinegar with 4 parts cold water.
  3. Place your damp fabric in the fixative solution for 1 hour.
  4. Rinse with cool water when done. Now your fabric is ready to dye.
  5. Start preparing the dye by placing the plant material in a large non-reactive pot (like stainless steel or glass). Note the dye could stain some pots and spoons.
  6. Fill the pot with twice as much water as plant material.
  7. Simmer for an hour or so, until you get a nice dark color.
  8. Strain out the plant material and return the liquid to the pot.
  9. Transfer the liquid to the squeeze bottles (for multi-color dye jobs) or buckets (for single-color dye jobs). And now you're all set for class.