Many common plants can be used to make a homemade natural dye. To separate the colouring from the plant material, it is necessary to:
6) Cut the plant into small pieces using a kitchen knife.
7) Place two parts water and one part plant material in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
8) Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 1 hour.
9) Sieve out the plant material and pour the coloured liquid into a large bowl for the dye bath.
10) If you use berries, boil them for about 15 minutes or until the colour of the berries blends with the water. Separate the berry pieces using a sieve and pour the coloured liquid into a large bowl.
The colours certain plants and berries make:
Orange: Onion skins and carrot roots
Brown: Coffee, tea, walnut hulls and dandelion roots
Pink: Raspberries, cherries and strawberries
Blue/purple: Red cabbage, blueberries, purple grapes, cornflower petals
Red: Beetroot, rosehips
Black: Iris root
Green: Artichokes, spinach leaves
Yellow: Celery leaves, turmeric, willow leaves, marigold flowers, peach leaves, yarrow.
In order to dye a fabric (such as a white cotton T-shirt) you should first soak it in a fixative mordant solution (125 ml salt with 2 L cold water for berry dyes, or 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts cold water for plant dyes) and then place it in the colour dye you have made and simmer it on a low heat for 30-60 minutes. The newly dyed fabric should then be washed separately in cold water.