Botanical Dyes from the Garden

Plant dyes are everywhere.

Reds and purples abound in the summer - cherry stains on shirts, berry stains on fingers.

Greens and yellows speak to the spring - grass stains on knees, sticky dandelion necklaces.

We've been reading so much about the magic of plant dyes over the past few months that we couldn't help but be inspired to create our own. We chose a sunny day in October to head out into the garden - manned with clippers, baskets and creativity - to see what we could find!



We came back from the garden with rhubarb, willow and rowan berries. All seasoned plant dyers stress the importance of being in a well-ventilated area while creating, so we set ourselves up outside in the sunshine. Rhubarb and willow went into the first pot, the rowan berries into the other, and we left them to slowly simmer.

In the meantime, we prepared our fabrics to be dyed. We knew that we wanted to use them to make sachets, so we went with a selection of white and unbleached organic cottons and linens. They were washed first, and then boiled in a solution of 1 part salt to 8 parts water.


Once both our fabrics and our plant dyes had boiled, simmered and sat for the recommended period of time, we combined them together and watched the magic happen!


Rhubarb and willow turned the fabrics a soft, delicate peach while the rowan berries went pink. We were so amazed by the colour that we ended up doing a third batch using oregon grape which dried into a lovely, natural purple.



Our entire plant dyeing attempt was completed over a single day, though we read later that it's better to split the process into several days to allow the dyes to deepen and the colours to fix into the fabric. But since we're using this fabric for sachets that won't be regularly washed like clothing, we figured this oversight was okay for our first attempt!

We absolutely love how our fabrics turned out - such soft and subtle colours that came straight from our garden! And we are so excited about turning them into sachets, just in time for the holidays!

It's truly incredible how each plant, leaf, twig, flower and berry holds different possibilities, and how such unique colours can be coaxed out of them depending on the time of year. While we're far from being experts, we had so much fun experimenting and look forward to perfecting our skills next season!

Want to learn more?

Be sure to check out...
Rebecca Desnos of Plants are Magic
Liz Spencer of The Dogwood Dyer
Samorn Sanixay of Eastern Weft

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