How to Make Your Own Dye

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Make your own dye for tie-dyeing clothes.
Make your own dye for tie-dyeing clothes. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Make your own natural fabric dye without using harsh chemicals. Use for tie-dyeing or to change the color of a piece of clothing. All you need are a few food items, a pan and you're ready to make your own dye.

Make red dye. Put 2 to 3 cups of fresh cranberries in a pot on a stove. Add enough water to cover the cranberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat. While boiling, stir and crush the cranberries. When the cranberries are crushed, allow to boil for another 10 minutes. Continue stirring. Allow to cool. Pour through a strainer. Reserve the liquid for dyeing.

Make blue dye. Cut a head of red cabbage into thin strips. Place the red cabbage in a pot on the stove and cover the cabbage with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Strain the red cabbage and save the liquid for blue dye.

Make yellow dye. Peel the skins from 12 yellow onions. Place the onion skins in a pot. Cover the onion skins with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 15 minutes and continue to stir. Drain onion skins and save the liquid for yellow dye.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store natural dyes in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 years.
  • To deepen the color, allow to cook longer or to make a lighter shade shorten the cooking time.
  • If you are dyeing a large quantity of items, make all of your dye at once in one large pot because the shade variation between batches can be greatly different.
  • To make other colors: Red+Blue=Purple, Red+Yellow=Orange, Yellow+Blue=Green.

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