Beets are delicious but they can also turn your hands, cutting board and anything else a nice shade of red…. so use that beet juice as a natural dye. Natural dyes are a great way to create custom fabrics by using resources that we have all around the house. Fruits, vegetables, and flowers can create beautiful, vibrant colors while also being eco-friendly.
For this DIY project, you will need four to five beets, depending on how much fabric you are dying, alum dyeing mordant, cream of tartar, two stainless steel pots, and natural fiber fabric like wool, raw silk, unbleached cotton, or muslin. Don’t forget gloves because this project can get messy!
To start, soak the fabric in water for at least one hour because this helps get the natural wax and oils out of the fabric.
Next, add the chopped beets to a pot and cover them with twice as much water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer it for one hour. After that, remove it from the heat and let the water get to room temperature. Strain the cooled dye into another bowl to remove the beets from the mixture. After this, you will be ready to start coloring the fabrics!
This next step is crucial to get the fabric to maintain the color. Dissolve .8 ounces of alum in 1 and 1/4 cups of warm water for every 1/2 lb. of fabric then add cream of tartar using 5-6% of the weight of the dry fabric. Pour that mixture into the beet dye and add the fabric, bringing it to a boil for thirty minutes.
Put the mixture aside to cool and once the water is cooled, remove the fabric or leave it to soak more of the color up to make it a more vibrant color if desired. Leaving it overnight is okay because the longer the fabric is in the water, the more color it will absorb. The fabric will appear lighter after dying than it appears in the bath.
Once the color is ready, rinse it with cold water and hang it to dry.
The possibilities of colors are truly endless. You can create so many different natural dyes using various plants, fruits, and vegetables. Use turmeric for a deep yellow, or blueberries for a stunning blue.