How to Dye Fabric Naturally

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Learn how to dye fabric naturally, using plant dyes and materials with this easy DIY guide.

Today I have a great tutorial on how to naturally dye fabrics using plant materials from Juliet Bawden. Juliet is a designer, maker, author, and journalist, who blogs on the website Creative Colour.

Juliet will show you how to dye your fabric, and then, as a bonus, she will show you how to use the finished result to make a pretty reusable gift wrap that you can use year after year.

Over to Juliet!

How To Naturally Dye Fabric

bowl of blackberries next to fabric, ready to be dyed naturally

With summer on the cusp of autumn, berries are plentiful at the moment, so it is a great time to use those that aren’t perfect enough to eat, or are surplus to your requirements, to make a natural dye. Today I will show you just how to dye fabrics using natural materials – it’s easier than you may think.

The best fabrics to dye using fruit and vegetables are natural ones such as cotton, silk, and linen. This is a great way to reuse old cotton sheets or pillowcases that have seen better days.

Before you start to naturally dye your fabric, you will need to wash it to get rid of any finishes in it, and any dust or dirt. You will also need a mordant to help the cloth take up the dye, otherwise, your natural dye may not work. Mordant sounds like a specialist ingredient, but don’t worry, you probably already have some mordant in your kitchen cupboard. Table salt is a commonly used mordant.

You Will Need

  • Fabric to dye
  • Scissors
  • 25cm Muslin
  • Berries (I used mulberries but blackberries are just as good – these are in season in September)
  • Salt (the proportions are ½ cup of salt to 8 cups of water)
  • Large wooden spoon
  • Gloves (Optional but Mulberries stain)


  • Wash your fabric and leave it damp.
  • Add the salt to a large pan of water and place the washed cloth in it.
  • Bring the pan to the boil and then leave it to stand for an hour.
  • Put your berries in the muslin and tie it up, so the berries can’t get out and add it to the pan.
blackberry dyed fabric in a bowl
  • Bring to the boil again and, simmer for an hour, pushing the muslin with a large spoon to help release the juices. Keep stirring to get an even colour distribution on the cloth.
  • Turn off the heat and leave the fabric in the natural dye bath. The longer you leave it the stronger the colour. I often leave mine overnight for more vibrant colours.
  • Remove the fabric from the dye bath. It will look much darker and often a different colour whilst it is wet.
the final fabric, which has turned blue, due to the blackberry natural dye
  • Hang your naturally dyed fabric up to dry and you are done!

How To Wrap Gifts Using Fabric

gifts wrapped in purple dyed fabric

The Japanese term for wrapping gifts in fabric is Furoshiki. It’s a great sustainable alternative to wrapping paper, as the recipient can reuse the fabric or give it back to you for wrapping future gifts.

Wrapping your gift in your naturally dyed fabric couldn’t be easier. Once the fabric is dry, iron it. Then follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Lay the fabric flat, with a corner pointing towards you, and place your box in the middle.
  2. Fold the corner closest to you over the box.
  3. Fold the corner opposite you over the box and fold the edge to make it neat.
  4. Tuck and gather the remaining material on each end and, with one end in each hand, bring them over the top of the box and tie.
  5. Make a neat bow on top of the box.

Thank you Juliet for this handy guide on how to dye fabric using natural materials. If you’ve liked this post, then do check out my guide to sustainable gift wrap ideas for more clever eco-friendly wrapping inspiration.

All images by Mimi Chambre for Juliet Bawden.

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