I love using natural items to create and experiment with. Dying with natural dyes is an old tradition that has been used for centuries. It is a fun activity to do with children and with adults.
I have experimented with lots of different process and techniques to achieve different patterns, used different fabrics and different products to get different colours. One reason why I love this activity so much as each batch varies. Each piece is individual.
Some of the best foods to use when dying are:
Beetroot, onion skins, berries, turmeric, saffron, tea, coffee, cherries, red cabbage, pomegranates and purple grapes.
These are just a few of a very long list of items that can be used. I like to use the off cuts of veggies so as not to waste food. It is fun to experiment and mix food together to see what colours you can create. The possibilities are endless.
I usually use calico or a natural weave. If your going to buy products look for a cotton fabric so the dye will penetrate it.
String, rubber bands, hair ties or raffia can all be used to create patterns on to the fabric. This is a fun area to experiment with also.
I have also experimented with boiling the fabric with the dyes or just leaving the fabric over night. I also mixed salt into the water to help the fabric hold on to the colour. Boiling gives a stronger colour in a shorter time span but again I think it is worth experimenting with.
Shibori is an ancient form of Japanese dying using the indigo dye. To create many different patterns in the fabric many little stitches are made using a needle and thread then unplugged once the fabric is dyed. This is also something to experiment with.
I hope this helps you get started with some natural hand dyeing at home.
Once you start, you will be looking for natural dyes everywhere.