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Keep it natural

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Give a fabric a natural makeover and show that nature really does know best


Plain old cotton pillow case, t-shirt or other item in white or a pale colour
large saucepan
wooden spoon
pair of old tights
vinegar or salt
rubber bands
rubber gloves

Natural dyes:
onion skins = yellow
red cabbage leaves = blue
spinach = green
instant coffee = tan
cherries = red


Choose one of the natural dyes, if necessary chop it up/squash them through a sieve. The more you use, the darker it will be - experiment with a small piece of sample fabric.

Put the ingredients in a large saucepan, cover with water and boil for 5-10 minutes, the longer you boil, the stronger the colour. Allow to cool.

Cut one foot off the tights, hold it open over the bowl. Pour the mixture into the foot and allow liquid to run through. To 'fix' the colour, add a mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar for plant dye or 1/4 cup salt for the berry dye. Need enough liquid to cover the fabric completely.

For tie dye effect, wind rubber bands around material where you want a pattern.

Pour the dye liquid back into the large pan and add one item at a time. Reheat the dye over a gentle heat. Pick the material up with the tongs now and again to see when the dye has taken.

Carefully remove items using tongs and place them in a sink of cold water. Wearing rubber gloves, rinse three or four times until the water runs clear. Hang outside to dry. Leave the rubber bands on until it is almost dry.


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