I have had the idea for this experiment rolling around in my head for a while – I played with food to create DIY fabric dyes! I’m glad that my annual Try Something New Every Month project gave me the push I needed to try it out – you can see more details about TSNEM 2016, and join in with us, in this post.
I really love dyeing fabric in theory, but in practice I feel like it smells chemically and/or makes a giant mess, so I was especially interested to see how food dyes turned out. I have (had?) high hopes of maybe tie dyeing with food based dyes this summer, letting my son get in on the fun, but I clearly need more practice before I rope him into it!
Googling brings up lots of information and resources; I stuck with the list/instructions at Pioneer Thinking. I cut up some cotton/linen scraps since I knew they were already prewashed, and got to smooshing and boiling.
I used 2 cups of food stuffs for each one and you can see how widely the water content of the actual food varied.
From the top are carrots, beets, strawberries, and blueberries. I chose these off her list of colors because I figured I could make good use of the leftover solid stuff – it all got blended in with spinach for yogurt popsicles!
I let all of them soak overnight – this is what they looked like after being rinsed in cold water. Vibrant, right? Beets are up on the top, strawberries on the bottom.
A gentle wash on cold, and this is what I was left with! I could not believe it. Beets on the far left, then strawberries, carrots, and blueberries. I knew the carrots wouldn’t turn out very vibrant, but am still shocked at how much the beets and strawberries washed out.
There is a very subtle difference in the top two, but it barely comes across in photos.
I am so shocked at how they turned out- but on a positive note, I love the blueberry dye! It has such a pretty, earthy tone. I’m not sure if I did something wrong with the other three (??) but want to give the beets another shot in the future.
I don’t have any plans for these scraps but I’m glad I experimented and will definitely revisit this. I think it would be really cool to gather barks and plants on nature walks, once my son is a little older, and try some of the less accessible dyes as well!
I hadn’t even thought to look for a book about natural dyes, but it looks like Amazon has a bunch of options, so I might request one of them from my library. Have you ever worked with food dyes?