Starting with natural dyes
Wild Colours natural dyes home

Wild Colours - Exciting colours from Natural Dyes

Wild Colours natural dyes > starting to dye

Are you just getting started with Natural Dyes?

a) Getting started with natural dyes
b) Dyeing a cotton T-shirt

a) Getting started with natural dyes: I’ve never used natural dyes before. What do I do?

Prepare your fibre for dyeing

  1. It is easiest to start with wool. Leave cotton for later, as it is a little more complicated.
  2. Begin with something that weighs about 100 gm, like a hank of wool. Heavier items such as a jumper may require an impracticably large saucepan. Start small.
  3. You need to make sure your wool is very clean and you need to scour it, which is more than just washing. Please read the safety guidelines before you start.

Scouring removes grease & oil from the fibre

Dye your fibre

  1. Natural dye extracts are easier to dye than leaves, wood chips, roots and flowers, when you are starting. You just need to dissolve the extract in warm water, then add the mordanted wool and simmer gently for a while.
  2. Rinse and dry the wool and you are then ready to use it.
  3. Our hand looms are ideal for using your batches of dyed wool

A mordant binds the dye to the fibre


  1. You might like to start with the cochineal kit - buy everything you need in one box.
  2. Woad and indigo need a different process and the woad kit is a good way to get started with blue colours.

b) Dyeing a cotton T-shirt: I want to dye a cotton T-shirt, but I have never used natural dyes before. What do I need?

  1. First you need make sure your T-shirt is very clean. You will need to scour it, which is much more than just washing, and you need soda ash for that. Please read the safety guidelines before you proceed.
  2. Indigo is one of the easiest natural dyes to use on cotton. You will need natural indigo pigment, soda ash and spectralite but you don’t need to mordant the cotton if you are using indigo. The instructions for dyeing with indigo here.
  3. You might like to have several T-shirts already scoured, as 10 gm of indigo can dye up to 800 gm of fabric (one T-shirt weighs 150 to 200 gm on average). Scour one T-shirt at the time. If you don’t want that many T-shirts, you might like to dye some white cotton fabric to use in patchwork.
  4. If you want any other colour, you will need to mordant the cotton first. For that you will need tannic acid, alum and soda ash.

Scouring removes grease & oil from the fibre

How to contact us:-
Wild Colours natural dyes, Studio 319, Scott House, The Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham B9 4DT, UK

Contact Teresinha for enquiries
Tel: +44 (0)7979 770865

UK Shipping £4.95p on orders up to £80 & free over £80 in UK
[shipping £2.95 on very small orders up to £2.95 in value]

Delivery to Europe + rest of World click here
Covid-19 Tracked Airmail only outside Europe

Special & Next Day Delivery

Updated on 19 April 2021
Website & photos by Mike Roberts ©2006-21 Wild Colours natural dyes