In order to use natural dyes, the fabric you use must be natural, or have high percentage of a natural fibre - synthetic fabric wont work. Natural dyeing is all about experimenting, try something
different, old plant from the garden, old vegetable scraps, get creative!
Each plant can dye a variety of colours and shades. This depends on how much of the plant matter you use, how long you leave it to extract, and how long you soak the fabric.
Here is some of my personal favs that I’ve tried:
Orange: brown onion skins, Japanese camellia leaf
Brown: walnut hulls, tea, coffee
Pink: cherries, red current, avocado skins and seeds, beetroot
Blue: red cabbage, blueberries, purple grapes,
Red-brown: pomegranates, beets, hibiscus, bamboo,
Grey-black: Blackberries, walnut hulls
Red-purple: red sumac berries, basil leaves, day lilies, pokeweed berries, huckleberries
Green: red onion, peppermint leaves, grass, nettles,
Yellow: bay leaves, turmeric
Step 1: Wash + Mordant
Mordanting the material ensures the pigment will stick to it. Add the mordant to boiling water and allow soak for at least 1 hour. (I often leave overnight)
-Mordant with alum - Approx. 1:8 mordant to dry weight fibre or cloth.
-Mordant with vinegar- Approx 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water. If its a new piece of fabric be sure to
wash it first to loosen the fibres.
Chop up and soak the dye material in hot water. Depending on the plant it takes different lengths of time to extract the pigment. Eg, Turmeric/ black beans within minutes - onion skins within an hour, avocado a couple hours/ overnight. Use personal judgement :)
Remove the plant material and add the yarn. The longer you allow it to soak in the dye bath, the more pigmented it will be. There will be changes almost every hour, leave overnight for the most pigment.