I want to add a little more to the pouches I embroider: the art of natural dyeing on cotton

I am new to dyeing with natural stuff, and that may be the exact reason that I want to share my knowledge about the art of natural dyeing, bit by bit and step by step. It is my intention to be clear, short and simple on how to dye with plants, weeds and flowers.

My material: I have a 10 liter steel pot dedicated for dyeing. I scour, mordant and dye cotton and cotton/hemp fabrics of 60 gram, 100 gram and pieces of 150 gram.


Wash fabric in the machine at a very warm program without a bleach product.


Scour the fabric with soda ash. I use sodium carbonate, which might not be the right product. How to scour: assuming you have a piece of cotton weighing 100 gram use 35 gram soda ash. Disperse the soda ash to the cold water, bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Rinse.


I mordant cotton with alum or aluminium acetate, after it has soaked in hot water for 2 hours (if the fabric does not come straight from the scour pot). How to mordant: assuming you have a piece of cotton weighing 100 gram use 7 to 10 gram aluminium acetate (it is advised to use a mask to cover your mouth and nose when using fine powders). Fill the dye pot with hot water and disperse the aluminium acetate. Stir well. Make sure the fabric is thoroughly immersed. Leave the fabric in the mordant pot for a few days.

Soak fabric in hot water before dyeing if it does not come straight out of the mordant bath.

Extract dye

Simmer (not boil) plant materials for 30 minutes. How to use the plants: I think it is safe to say that bigger leaves and peels should be cut in pieces, nuts and seedpods cracked, and gather plant material weighing at least the amount of fabric you use (that would be 100 gram, right ; )


How to actual dye: clear colored liquid of plant material and disperse fabric in to the dye bath, simmer for 30 minutes.

Leave to cool in the pot overnight. Rinse until water has become clear.

Material such as alum I bought local and aluminium acetate was ordered at Wildcolors, they also provide a lot of information.