Colonial America: natural dyes

So, a few weeks ago we set about learning how the colonists made their clothes and got the different colored cloths they got.


We gathered some different items that had been suggested and boiled our materials for 30 minutes or so and pulled it all out.



Then we pulled it all out and separated it out into the different fibers and observed them.


Do you see what we discovered?  Here’s what we used: blueberry tea, red onion skins, yellow onion skins, and cayenne powder.


What did we get?  Brown, brown, blue-tinged brown, and brown.


We also discovered that canvas dies quite well.  The tight woven cotton did not, the bubble gauze cotton (very loosely woven) did, and the wool roving also took the dye well.


So, has anyone used a natural die and gotten a color aside from brown?

6 thoughts on “Colonial America: natural dyes

  1. I seem to remember Leah at Almost Unschoolers using dandelions to obtain pale yellow. I also remember that in my country beets were used to color cloth pink/red color. Maybe you needed a higher concentration to get a stronger color?

  2. I think shades of brown are the easiest to get – we did get a light yellow from dandelion flowers, and had some success getting pink for coffee filters and play dough with crandberries, and strawberries. A different type of mordant is needed depending on whether you use a plant dye, or a berry dye. It would be fun to really know how to use natural dyes.

  3. Very interesting. I remember another blog that used natural items for dyes at Easter, but don't ask me where now. I will have to see if I can come across it again.

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