We used beets, spinach, turmeric, and red cabbage to create a brilliant range of dye colors for tie dyeing and more.
Read step by step instructions after the video.

Discover the process of dyeing with this natural dye pulling (tie dyeing) DIY. This project is great to do with kids and is part of our Kids Lab series.

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What you need

Materials
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How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

To make the dye: Wearing gloves, chop up raw ingredients and place in a blender using a ratio of two cups of very hot (almost boiling) water to every two cups of raw material.

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Step 2

If using a spice, such as turmeric, add one to two tablespoons of spice to every two cups of hot water.

Step 3

Other materials I used included red cabbage (purple), beets (pink/red), and spinach/parsley (green).

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Step 4

Blend the mixture until it becomes a very fine slurry.

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Step 5

When done blending, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer.

Step 6

Dissolve 1 tablespoon of table salt in the liquid.

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Step 7

Decant into condiment bottles with a small funnel.

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Step 8

To prepare fabric for dyeing, wash fabric very well in the laundry as usual.

Step 9

Dry completely in the dryer.

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Step 10

Use rubber bands to create a pattern on your shirt (or other cotton items such as socks, bags, onesies, etc.).

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Step 11

Pinch, pleat, or fold the fabric to make the design.

Step 12

Once you're satisfied with your design, treat the fabric with a fixative/mordant.

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Step 13

Mix 1 cup of salt with 16 cups of water (or ½ cup of salt with 8 cups of water), and bring to a boil.

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Step 14

Simmer your fabric in this solution for one hour prior to dyeing.

Step 15

(If you are making a plant- or veggie-based dye, mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and follow the same process.)

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Step 16

When done simmering, run under cool water.

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Step 17

Wring out a bit of the excess water.

Step 18

To dye fabric: Wearing gloves, squirt dyes directly onto the fabric. Tip: Plan to put adjacent primary colors (red, yellow, blue) or secondary colors like orange, green, and purple next to each other; in the areas where they run together, they will blend together and create a third color.

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Step 19

Keep paper towels handy so dye doesn't puddle or seep into an area where you plan to place another color. Tip: The shirt could be placed on a baking rack when applying dye so it runs through; just be sure to place an old tray or newspapers under it.

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Step 20

Once adequately dyed, place the fabric into a plastic bag and seal.

Step 21

Heat in microwave for 2 minutes on high on a bed of paper towels or a plate.

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Step 22

Take the bag out of the microwave and allow it to cool completely overnight.

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Step 23

Once rested, rinse under cool water.

Step 24

Remove or cut rubber bands, and hang to air dry completely

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Step 25

To further heat set the dye, run the item through the drier on high for about an hour.

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Step 26

Launder only by hand in a very mild detergent.

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