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Homemade natural dyes -- tips, tricks, and how-tos

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Homemade natural dyes -- tips, tricks, and how-tos
Why use natural dyes in your craft projects? It can actually be a very interesting and educational experience to make dyes from scratch instead of using a store-bought dye. We're all aware of how certain foods will stain if spilled on that clean white tablecloth, so why not use that to your advantage by making your own natural dyes?

Dye-making is a fun and educational project that is perfect for rainy afternoons. Homemade dyes are great for craft projects such as dyed playsilks, T-shirts, playdough, even Easter eggs. Your kids will love making natural dyes!

Natural dye materials

Here are some of the options for creating natural colours. Feel free to experiment and see what colours you can make, though!

Instructions for natural homemade dyes

Homemade natural dyes for Easter eggs Once you have prepared the item you would like to dye, you're ready to begin!

  1. Set out enough jars, large cups, or tubs for the number of colours you desire.
  2. Add a teaspoon of vinegar and/or other fixatives to each.
  3. Add natural dye material and stir it up.
  4. Place your item into the desired dye bath. For multi-coloured items, start with the lightest shade.
  5. Let soak until desired shade is reached.
  6. Remove, rinse in vinegar, let dry, and enjoy!

What kinds of things can be dyed?

Pretty much anything! You can set up dye baths for fabric, paper, yarn, wool -- anything you might use for a craft project. Even wood can be dyed this way, though you will need to coat it after dyeing by rubbing it with softened beeswax. This will help to protect the colours from wear during daily usage of the item.

The important thing is to be safe when using hot dyes for fabric. Alert for children: always get adult help before trying this at home!

Dye Easter eggs

These dyes can be used for Easter eggs (although some color choices may affect the flavor of the eggs just a bit). This can be a fun pre-holiday activity for the whole family. Your kids can see how slight changes in the amount of dye used can drastically affect the colour of each egg.

Make playcloths for children

Dyed cotton handkerchiefs make nice playcloths for kids. You could also do this with silk cloths if you follow Waldorf teachings. With a little imagination, the playcloths can be used as doll blankets, gnome tents, and more. It would be fun to have a set of playcloths in every colour of the rainbow!

Dye wool for needlework projects

Wool roving can be dyed at home to use for spinning, weaving, and needle-felting projects. Wouldn't it make you proud to say that you dyed the wool for your project by yourself? This also has the advantage of being able to dye your wool the exact colours you need to complete the project on which you are working.

T-shirts would be a fun project for kids

For a fun afternoon craft, dye plain T-shirts in colors of your children's choosing. You could make a different colour shirt for every day of the week!

This would also be a terrific interactive project for kid birthday parties, and the shirts themselves can be one of the party favors.

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