Who doesn’t love a good tie-dye? I’ve been obsessed with tie-dying everything lately and I wanted to experiment with trying a DIY natural dye to keep the process more eco-friendly.

I read about using logwood chips for purple dye and alum powder as a mordant so I went for it and really love the results. I’m not a professional and don’t know a whole lot about the chemistry that goes into dying and mordants so do take caution and research for yourself any health and safety tips when handling these products.

I wore gloves at all times, kept all windows open, and used pots and dishes that wouldn’t be used for food for extra precaution.

I chose to tie-dye a white cotton sweater for this project. It wasn’t 100% cotton although that would have been better, (well 100% organic cotton would be even better but that’s okay). This sweater was 80% cotton 20% polyester. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that doesn’t allow natural dyes to adhere to them very well so the more natural you can get your fabric the better.

You can dye any fabric you’d like, just make sure that you choose a natural fiber.

A natural fiber could be:

+ cotton

+ linen

+ bamboo

+ silk

+ wool

You can check the label on the inside of your garment to find this information.

For the DIY Natural Purple Tie Dye Project

YOU’LL NEED ||

+ WHITE SWEATER OR T-SHIRT | thrift store

+ OLD POT | thrift store

+ SIFTER 

+ ALUM POWDER 

+ LOGWOOD CHIPS 

+ RUBBER GLOVES 

+ RUBBER BANDS

+ SCISSORS

+ MEASURING SPOONS 

+ MEASURING TAPE

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HOW TO

1. SOAK THE LOGWOOD CHIPS OVER NIGHT 

Put the logwood chips in an old pot and pour a little bit of boiling water over the chips and leave on the stove over night. You only need enough water to cover the logwood chips.

I’d recommend using an older pot from a thrift store and one that you won’t be using for food anymore. I’d also recommend wearing a pair of rubber gloves while handling the dye and this whole process.

Better to be safe!

2. ADD MORE WATER AND BOIL THE DYE 

The next day, add more water to the dye bath. I wanted a stronger dye so I only added around 4-5 cups of water. You can add as little or as much as you’d like, just keep in mind the more water you add the more diluted the dye will become.

Bring the dye bath to a boil and then simmer for about an hour. This will make the dye stronger.

Take the pot off the heat and strain the logwood chips into another bowl or pot then pour the dye back into the pot and put it on low heat.

3. CREATE THE MORDANT BATH

Start with soaking your sweater or shirt in a bowl/pot of regular water. While that soaks, you can start to make the mordant bath.

A mordant is a material that helps to bind the dye to the fabric and seal it in.  A common mordant that many natural dyers use is alum powder which is what I used for this project. It’s safe and effective!

In a small bowl, mix 1-2 TBSP of alum powder with a little bit of boiling water – just enough to cover and dissolve the powder. Fill a bowl or pot with around 8-10 cups of lukewarm water and add the alum mixture to it and stir. Soak the sweater in the mordant bath for 5-10 min.

When I researched the ratio of alum to water, I found many dyers used a more weight based method. Because I didn’t have a proper scale I went with an estimate for this so feel free to research the ratio for yourself if you want to be more accurate (it did turn out fine though for me with what I did so up to you).

4. WRING AND TIE THE SWEATER

Wring out the sweater in the sink and then lay it out on a clean surface (don’t rinse the mordant off the sweater). Grab your rubber bands and start scrunching and securing.

I like the scrunch method myself, but you can choose whatever design or pattern you’d like to tie.

5. SOAK THE SWEATER IN THE DYE BATH 

Turn off the stove and take your tied sweater or shirt and stick it in the dye bath pot. I didn’t make enough dye to cover the entire sweater so I ended up flipping it as the time went on. Depending on how much dye you make, you may have to do this as well.

I left the sweater in the dye bath for around an hour, flipping it periodically.

6. RINSE AND WASH

Next it’s time to rinse and wash the dye. Leave the rubber bands on the sweater or shirt so it doesn’t bleed, then fill the sink with water and start rinsing the sweater until the water runs clear. I added a little bit of salt to the water as an extra mordant, but you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.

Once it’s rinsed out, remove the rubber bands and then wash the sweater on it’s own on a full cycle then dry.

You can dry out the logwood chips and store them and the excess dye in containers for a later project if you’d like.

OPTIONAL

7. CROP

I wanted the sweater to be cropped so I cut off the ribbing on the bottom of the sweater so it would lay flat then measured the length I wanted the sweater to be and cut with some fabric scissors.

FINAL RESULT

I really love how it turned out. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out as dark as it did but I really do like the color – it’s a strong, bold purple!

I hope you have fun making your own DIY natural tie dye creation.

If you like the tie dye look, check out how I did a reverse tie dye with bleach on some old tops.  I also have another blog post and youtube video on how you can distress your jeans if you wanted to check that out too!

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