Painting with milk & dyeing with tea

If you’re just dipping your toes into natural dyeing, tea is a great dye to try first. But years later, I still love dyeing with tea. This tutorial is a little bit special… wait until you see the patterns!

Why do I love dyeing with tea so much? Almost all of us have some tea in the back of a cupboard, it contains tannins and dyes fibres amazingly well. Plus you don’t need any special equipment – you can use your cooking pans as we are working with entirely edible dyes.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to dye your own furoshiki-inspired fabric wrapping cloths. It’s a perfect project for an absolute beginner in natural dyeing. I’ve used black tea, rooibos and dried nettle leaves for the colours.

Plus, this is a great zero waste idea. I used an old cotton bed sheet and tea I had in my kitchen. You could certainly reuse old tea bags or loose tea leaves to make the dye!

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Dyeing with nettles

One of my favourite plants to dye with in the spring is the stinging nettle – it’s one of the plants I most look forward to. The leaves give me a soft grey-green hue at this time of year (maybe you get a slightly different colour?) – the colour just feels so fresh and “alive” at the beginning of spring.

In this blog post I’ll give your some of my nettle dyeing tips for the freshest colours, and also chat to two nettle-loving herbalists, Kim and Vicky, from Handmade Apothecary. They’ve answered some of my questions about nettles and helped me understand why lower heat works best when extracting dye from the leaves.

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Playing as part of my design process

People often wonder why I dye so many small pieces of fabric in different colours and ask what I do with them all. I’ve actually considered taking up quilting as a hobby on many occasions. The truth is, I simply love dyeing swatches of fabric and lengths of yarn with different plants. Experimenting is all part of my process and I discover lots of new things through this kind of play.

 

 

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