dyeing with turmeric

Looking at the shelves, I see a sea of whites, and pastels before me. Now how did that happen? How have I gone through two newborn stages before and still have a cupboard so lacking in colour? It looks like colour was a bit slim on the ground before 3-6 months. Hmmm, need to change that.

How about some playing with natural dyes and see what I can come up with? With yellow on my mind lately, I remembered this post from this lovely lady. It seemed turmeric was looking like a good choice and having come home with some fresh turmeric from my favouriteย market stall a few days before, an even more logical choice.

Some fresh turmeric dyeing action it was going to be.

First up, some turmeric sliced into pieces and put into enough water to just cover the items I want coloured.

looking lemony yellowy looking after 24 hours of soaking… now to cook it.

After an hour of gently boiling. The colour looks good, but will it stay? (Turmeric seems to be one of the few natural dyes that don’t need a mordant.)

After one wash in the machine and line dried… looking rather lemony again, not the brighter yellow I was after. The wash wasn’t what did it, it seems the sun fades it, and rather quickly.

Try again…

This time with one teaspoon dried turmeric and enough water to just colour the material, cold water soak for an hour. Rinsed until the water runs clear, and how’s it looking? Looking like a wonderful bright yellow.

On the line to dry again, and once ย more ย it seems to fade a bit with the sun. This time I’m ok with that though. The colour is more vivid, and if it fades well so be it, it’s a natural dye. A natural dye that has its own rhythm and opinion it seems and if I really want to vamp the colour up again, well I just need a teaspoon of turmeric and little cold water.

Have you had great natural dyeing action? What are your favourite colours or items to use?

40 thoughts on “dyeing with turmeric

  1. Love the color of the raw turmeric…wish it would dye it that color, but perhaps it would be too bright for your use. The lemony color is pretty and soft, too. I haven’t done much natural dyeing but can guess that cranberries based on straining my cranberry liqueur through cheesecloth that they might result in some pretty colors…don’t know if they have staying power though. Fun!


  2. Have you seen India Flints book “Eco Tints” on natural dying? She has all sorts of amazing things in it! I’d get it just for the pictures alone. Its Australian and she dyes with gum leaves as well! Tea and coffe and onion skins make good dyes as well!
    Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚ – Kara


  3. What fun! I second the recommendation for India Flint’s book – it’s fabulous.

    Could you maybe try a little vinegar in the cooking pot with the tumeric water? That is what I use when experimenting with dying fleece…I believe it helps to ‘set’ the colour.

    PS – if you’re after an orangy tone anytime, try beetroot..or it’s pickling juice..it’s very freaky!

    Oooh…how about some purple onion skins..that would be fun to try!


  4. I’ve tried dying calico with turmeric to use as curtains, but it did fade a lot very quickly. Might revisit it though and try again. I’ve used turmeric, paprika and wheatgrass in my soaps.


  5. Whoa…coincidental or what?! Christine just told me that you had posted about turmeric too and I popped over to see how yours went!
    I think it is the sun that fades them a lot…… my bright yellow has faded in areas where the sun hit hardest.
    I’m going to try again and dry it indoors but I am wondering if it will fade a bit each time it gets washed. We’ll see….


  6. oh what a lovely idea. So many dyes are so nasty.

    And yeah i found that most newborn clothes were pretty plain too. Either pastel pink, pastel blue or white. Which are all nice but i once found a teeny tiny brightly rainbow coloured tie-dyed newborn singlet and it remains one of my favs.

    And with all the mulberry eating (and spilling) that’s been going on around here i have wondered about them as a source of dye!


    • Surely mulberries would have to be a great source of natural dyeing!… they stain everything when ever I’ve picked them, (and I always seem to be in a white top whenever I come across them.)

      I’ve got just the one little newborn tie dyed singlet too- hooray for splashes of colour.


  7. That’s great! Tumeric is a wonderful herb – an excellent natural antibiotic for babies and adults. I didn’t think of using it for clothes dye though! I did a workshop in natural indigo dye a couple of years ago – picking the plants, soaking them and dyeing material – it was fantastic.


  8. Oh wow! Hooray. So glad you enjoyed the process. I used dried tumeric for mine and the colour seems to have held reasonably well. I’ve just prepared a mordant and am wanting to try cabbage leaves next. The softness and lifecycle of the colours is something really beautiful.
    Thanks for the link too. x


  9. I get torn between the natural fabrics and the startling colours of unnatural dyes – as I like my colours, sylvia never wore lots of whites but I have never got into natural dyes – beetroot and spinach are the colours I wonder about – and would carrots also give some interesting colour


  10. I just dyed a sample of soft spun superbulky merino with fresh turmeric, and it came out brilliant orange-yellow. Grated the turmeric into 1L water, microwaved until boiling (3-4 mins), dropped in yarn and left overnight, followed by vinegar and water for a few hours. Maybe you didn’t leave it long enough?


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