#1year1outfit All the Linen Natural Dyeing

I have used up every last scrap of my undyed linen this summer in various natural dyeing experiments.  Anything that didn’t take was used in another dye bath. My kimono dress is a great visual of many of the colours but I wanted to make sure I summarised everything in one place! Here is how it went…

linen dyeing 2015


Mordant – As linen is not a protein fiber like wool or silk it doesn’t take to dyeing as well, so I used some local mordanting (pre treatment) techniques from India Flint’s book to help the dye stick. The two methods I used were:

1. Seawater + dairy (S+D) – soak in seawater for 30 mins, dry, dip in diluted dairy solution and dry 3 times.  This was in the heat of our full summer so I actually did this over 1 day. Yep, things dry fast here!

2. Dairy only (D) – soaking overnight in a dilute dairy solution then drying

Dye Bath – I also used two different methods to create the dye bath:

1. Solar – add wet fabric to a jar with plant material and warm water, seal and leave in the sun for 4-7 days.

2. Simmer and Soak (S+S) – Simmer the plant material for 1 hour, (leave overnight if time or weak), add the linen then simmer for another hour, (soak overnight if needed).

Once out of the dye bath, the linen was dried in the shade.


The Good

Pomegranate (D, SS)


Eucalyptus (Salmon Gum) bark (D, Solar)

solar dyeing

Eucalyptus (Red Ironbark) leaves (D, Solar)
eucalypt - red ironbark red ironbark dye

Green Hibiscus (S+D, Solar)


Bottle brush flowers (D, Solar)

solar dyeing

Avocado pits (D, S+S)


Turmeric powder (D, Solar)

image natural dyeing progress

Agnosis flexuosa (D, S+S)

image Peppi tree results

Red Cabbage (D, Solar with added vinegar) (and bonus wattle on wool result)

IMAG1269 cabbage solar dye

The purple stripes are where the dairy mordant took best.

The Bad
It may be my inexperience that led to little or no colour uptake for these :

–  Fern leaves (D, Solar), Red caps from Illayarie (D, Solar),  Lily Pily berries (S+D), Solar),  Bouganvillia (D, Solar)


The Undecided

In both of these, they are reportedly good dye plants but I think my ratio of plant material to fabric was too little. Very little colour on final fabric.

 Passion fruit leaves and flowers (D, S+S)  

image Passionfruit result

Sunflower heads (D, Solar)


Wattle blossoms and leaves (showed early promise on bamboo twill using eco printing technique)

IMAG1312 Ginger Dyeing

I am super keen to keep playing with all the different types of eucalyptus here in WA using the simmer method over winter.  Anyone else been throwing things in jars with wild abandon?

2 thoughts on “#1year1outfit All the Linen Natural Dyeing

  1. Some great colours, love the Hibiscus. I dyed with powdered paprika yesterday & got quite a pretty colour but will have to see if it lasts.

  2. Pingback: #1year1outfit 2015 Australia Finale | this is moonlight

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