July 13, 2012

dyeing with black beans

 I finally finished an actual dye! I'm super happy with how it turned out, and plan on doing some cabbage dyeing after work today, with red cabbage, and then some baking soda...

Anyways, this was so crazy easy, and looks pretty amazing.  Seriously, I think I've spent more time watering my pathetic garden this week than dealing with this, that's how little time it takes.  Here's what I did, and hopefully it works for you!

1) Applied an alum mordant ahead of time.  Maybe I'll actually outline that separately, because there was a bunch of ratios involved, and I think it would be helpful to post, because a lot of the resources I found were incomplete.

2) Bought about a cup and a half of black beans, added water and let them soak overnight (this was for about 150g of cotton fabric.  I was very inexact with those ratios, but it seemed to turn out ok!)

3) In the morning, I strained the bean water into a second bucket (read: old IKEA trash bin) and added my fabric.  I added more water to the beans.

4) I did the same thing that evening, adding the bean water into the fabric bucket and adding clean water to the beans.

5) Repeat step 3 & 4 the next day

6) The next morning (so the fabric had been soaking for 48 hours), I removed the fabric, rinsed it well, and hung it to dry.  That's it!

So: soak beans, add new bean water to fabric every 12 hours for a total of 2 days soaking time.  I assume if you used more beans, or left the fabric longer you might get more saturated shades.  I took one piece out the after 36 hours soaking to see what would happen, and it is slightly lighter.

Hope that helps someone with their dyeing!


  1. what a lovely shade of blue! if you're on a natural dyeing streak, try onion skins. they're always readily available :) (fennel fronds, too!)

    1. onion skins (both red and white) and avocado are on my schedule next. super excited!

  2. a-mazing. i love it! the colour is so fantastic! <3

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! The color is so beautiful! I can't wait to try this out and also to see what your cabbage dye will look like!