Natural Tie Dye for Summer

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As those lazy days of summer come to a close, we’ve got a great idea for one last family craft. What’s more summer than tie-dye? It’s a fun and easy project that kids can do and enjoy for years to come.

Did you know you can make dye solutions from many things in your house and yard? Berries, vegetables, spices, flowers, and plants can all be used to make the most beautiful hues, using just a few simple steps. The muted colors made by Mother Nature herself are so pretty and the process is really fun for kids (and adults too!). The best thing about natural dyeing is that the ingredients you need are fairly easy to come by.

Here are just a few materials you can use (and the colors you’ll get with each):
Onion skins (yellow/orange), Coffee grounds/tea (brown), Strawberries/cherries (pink), Roses or lavender (pink), Red cabbage (blue/purple), Hyacinth flowers (blue), Beets (deep red), Iris roots (gray/black), Artichokes (green), Turmeric (yellow), Mulberries/blueberries/blackberries (purples), and Red Hibiscus Flower (reds-purples)

The first step is to prepare your dye, and this can definitely be done a little ahead of time.
Chop your plant or berries into small pieces, measure them, and put them in a medium-to-large pot. Add twice as much water as ingredients (if you put in two cups of plant material, add four cups of water).

Bring to a boil, and then simmer for one hour. Strain off the hard materials and keep the “dye.”
Keep in mind that the longer you let the materials sit in the water, the stronger your dye is going to be. If you have the time, you can even let it soak overnight (without heat) to get a really concentrated solution.

Once you’ve picked out what you want to dye and you’ve got your dye all ready to go, you have to prepare a fixative for your fabric. This will “fix” the dye into the fibers so it won’t wash out.
If you’re using berries to dye your fabric, you should use a salt fixative. Put 1/2 cup salt in 8 cups of water. If you’re using plants to dye your fabric, you have to use a vinegar fixative. Combine one part vinegar and four parts water. When you’ve prepared the right solution, put your fabric in the fixative and boil for one hour. When your fabric is done, rinse it out under cold water.

Rubber band your fabric in the classic tie-dye way and get ready for the real magic!

All you do to finish the project is to place your wet fabric into the dye bath and simmer until the fabric has reached the color and shade you want. You could also experiment with placing a dye in a bottle with an applicator and squirting directly on the fabric as many people do when tie-dyeing. Keep in mind that the color is going to be a bit lighter once the fabric dries out.

Then, wash the fabric separately under running cold water until the water runs clear. Remove rubber bands and hang to dry. Finally, we recommend grabbing some popsicles to celebrate another great summer craft, complete.

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