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Natural Plant Based Tie Dyes

Natural Plant Based Tie Dyes

Tie dyeing has been a stable in most of our lives. Whether your first time was as a Girl Scout (or Boy Scout) or college freshman “Tie Dye” is a great activity for people of all ages! While there are non-toxic dyes you can purchase to color your fabric, we wanted to show you a fun way to dye clothing using ingredients you normally use when cooking! That’s right, we will be using fruits, veggies, and even a spice to dye our white t-shirt! We will be using 4 dyes but I’ll leave ideas for other colors at the bottom of this post, just in case you’d like to try them!



Materials you will need:


Sauce Pan(s)


White vinegar

Rubber bands

1-5 mixed natural dyes (see recipes in step 2)

Squirt bottles (optional)

Rocks/marbles (optional)



First Step: Fabric Prep

-Take 4 cups of water and mix in 1 cup of Salt in a sauce pan.

-Bring the water to a boil, and put your shirt into the pan. If the water does not cover the shirt, add 1 cup of water and ¼ cup of salt until the salt water covers the shirt completely.

-Allow it to boil for 5-10 minutes then lower heat to a simmer for one hour.  This step helps your shirt retain color when washing in the future.

-Remove from heat, and rinse shirt with cold water. Be careful when handling your shirt, as it will be hot!

-Squeeze extra water from shirt.


Step Two: Creating Your Dye!

In our video, you will see that we used the dye that involves blueberries, beets, cherries, and turmeric. There are a few bonus colors here for you to try out! The ratios for all fruit and veggies are 1:4. 1 cup of your chosen ingredients and 4 cups of water and a small amount of vinegar.



To create this color, add 1 cup of water and ½ of blueberries to a small sauce pan. If you’d like more dye, you can always double this ratio. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the mixture to help the dye set.



You can use a mixture of yellow onion skins and turmeric, or one of the ingredients to create a yellow color. Using just turmeric will create a very gold color. We used 6 teaspoons of turmeric in ½ cup of water, mixed it really well with a fork, and that was it!


Baby Pink:

½ cup of beets, 2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar and your mixture is complete!



2 cups of water along with ½ of frozen cherries and two tablespoons of white vinegar.



½ a cup of red cabbage with 4 cups of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar.



½ a cup of spinach with 4 cups of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar.


We prepared our selected 4 dye colors in separate pans. You can also just use one color if you’d like to create a monochromatic shirt.


Step Three: Rubber Band it!

So now that you’ve got your dyes ready to go, and your t-shirt has been rinsed with cold water, let’s twist it up! There are many different ways you can make fun designs! You can take rocks or marbles and rubber band them around your shirt in a fun pattern, or just twist it up in a fun way and rubber band it! If you can’t think of a way to twist it, you can look at our examples in the video, or you can use google to find a design of your choice!

A really simple one is just laying the T-shirt flat, grabbing from the middle, and tying a rubber band everyone few inches until you get to the sleeves.


Step Four: Dip it!

Now you are ready to soak your t-shirt! This is where you might need to get a little creative depending on how man dyes you are using, and what pattern you chose. If you did the twisted wheel, you can just soak each corner one at a time. Or if you twisted from the center, like we did, you can flip flop your sides around!


You’ll want to put the part of the shirt you’d like colored in your selected dye, over the stove. Bring your dye mixture to a boil, then let simmer 20 minutes with the desired area of fabric for coloring in the pan.

We used an upside-down glass bowl to set next to the stove to allow for parts of the shirt to rest on. We also used a wooden spoon in some pans to keep the shirt in the correct position. Using smaller amounts of dye mix will make applying multiple colors easier! But as always, feel free to follow your intuition and do what you’re feeling!  


(To achieve deeper colors, simply leave your fabric in the dye for longer, you can even soak them over night, just turn the heat off after 30 minutes, and let cool until the day.)


Final Step: The Unveiling!

When handling your shirt be careful you don’t burn yourself, wear kitchen gloves, or tongs to handle your shirt. When you’ve finished coloring the shirt, rinse with cold water. You may also do a cold-water salt bath at this step to really solidify the colors, or you can skip it and hang your shirt out in the sun to dry!

Hope you enjoy trying this fun activity at home!


Take care everyone,


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does the color fade away ?


Do you boil the colors.

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