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Dye and Mordant
Dyes for clothing and other fabric can be made from flowers, leaves, bark, roots, and berries. General instructions for making dye and mordant as well as a color guide for plant materials follow.

Steps To Make a Dye Solution From Natural Materials

Steps To Make a Color Fixative (Mordant)

Color Guide

Steps To Make a Dye Solution From Natural Materials:
  1. Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. You can place plant materials in pantyhose or cheesecloth bags for easy removal.
  2. Double the amount of water to plant material. Nut hulls may have to be soaked for a few hours before boiling.
  3. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour. Strain.
  4. Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight.
To Make a Color Fixative (Mordant):

A mordant such as alum (aluminum ammonium sulfate) can be added to the dye to help bind dye to fabric fibers.

A natural mordant can be made from juniper needles by gathering dry branches and burning them over a wide container. Catch only the needle ashes and add one cup of ashes to two cups of boiling water. Stir and strain. The liquid is the mordant.

Other Color Fixatives

For Berry Dyes - 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water

For Plant Dyes - 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar

Color Guide
Click on the color dye you would like to make.

dandelion roots, sumac berries (red-pink), pokeweed berries (red-purple)


sassafras leaves, sumac leaves, boiled walnut hulls, boiled acorns (oak), juniper berries (brown-orange)


willow leaves, goldenrod flowers, sumac bark, dandelion flowers, sunflower petals, smartweed, poplar leaves (lime-yellow)


smartweed plant, poplar leaves (lime-yellow)


sumac leaves


sunflower leaves


sunflower seeds (deep blue-purple, smartweed leaves


red maple inner bark, pokeweed berries (red-purple), sunflower seeds (deep blue-purple)

Home Help Glossary About
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