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My 5 Favorite and Best Plants to Dye Naturally With 🦋 Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Tips

Updated: May 18, 2022

Here is a list of my favorite plants I dye my linen with. I've been dyeing clothes naturally for several years now and love every instant of seeing new colours ors in my dyeing pots. It's a sustainable and eco-conscious activity that anyone can learn.

When I started my label OLIVE + BLUE - An Ode to Mother Earth, I wasn't sure what fabrics I was going to focus on, until I realised how bad chemical dyes are for the planet. 🌍 This changed my focus on being the most sustainable and eco-friendly I could be. After all, there are already so many clothes on the planet, If i was going to make more, they had to be different and have a message. So natural dyeing came naturally.

If you love natural dye, ladies linen dresses, eco friendly shopping make sure to check out our other posts.

 book on natural dyeing  the modern natural dyer
the modern natural dyer book

I started to learn about natural dyeing through books I bought, or through blog posts. Here are my favorite books I used to get started with :

The Modern Natural Dyer is absolutely a must. It is gorgeous but super informative as well.

Botanical Colour at Your Fingertips was very good for a beginner and has great projects your can do with your dyed fabrics.

Botanical Colour at Your Fingertips book on natural dyeing
Botanical Colour at Your Fingertips

Now for my favorite plants, you'll find that I am more attracted to creating colours close to Sienna Earth, Musky Green, Dirty Blue, Bright Pink so i'll tell you what plants I use for these.

Plant #1 - Catechu

I love catechu as a natural dye ! It gives such gorgeous shades of orange that are beautiful in the fall and winter. This is what i use to get close to the Sienna Earth or Ocre colours I want.

Caroline, an influencer who started the blog BLUSH AVOCADO is wearing the Daisy Linen Dress in Sienna, from our own label OLIVE + BLUE

I find I get best colours when I let the catechu powder sit in water longer, and I don't let it get to a boil, just warm. You'll always want 30% of the weight of your fabric in plant extract. I use oak gall as a mordant for this colour.

Plant #2 - Carrot Tops 🥕

You would think you'd get some orange or green colour directly from the carrot top for natural dyeing, but no you'll get some yellow hues. If I prepare my fabric with alum, i'll get bright yellows, like in the picture below. I find it to be a happy yellow which is lovely. What I love about Natural dyeing with carrot tops is that you can easily grow them yourself in your garden and there is so much joy in using plants you've grown to dye with !

"Cette robe suffit à elle même pour créer un look tendance, romantique proche de la nature, bref tout ce que j’aime ! Je pense d’ailleurs, certainement l’année prochaine, la prendre dans d’autres coloris car elles existent dans plusieurs couleurs dont un blanc, un vert doux, un rose…" – Caroline, BLUSH AVOCADO

Here I am picking carrots from my garden, and to the right I am wearing a linen bucket hat I dyed with those same carrot tops.

Make sure you rinse the carrot tops off well or you will end up with a lot of dirt in your pot. I do suggest leaving your fabrics in the pot overnight for best results. You can add a little pinch of iron sulfate to get a lovely light green like this dress I made below.

Plant #3 - St John's Wort

I love this flower as it gives bright and beautiful yellow's. They grow easily and everywhere in France which makes it a sustainable plant for us to use here. I love how many colors you can get from this flower. From yellow, to pinkish brown to green. You can really play around with this one like with alum, iron, acid etc.

The Francesca dress is one of my favorite designs as it is so comfortable and easy to wear year round.

Plant #4 - Madder Root

Trying to find madder root that was grown in Europe is not easy, but not impossible.With it you can make so many shades of pink and red. Getting that perfect crimson red is very difficult and i've yet to make one that I am proud of. But good thing my favourite colour is pink, and at least I can get plenty of that with Madder Root !

On the right my mom is wearing the Babette Linen dress in pink. She's ordered 3 of this dress and it's all I see her wearing now.

I get my favorite results when I add some calcium to my bath mix as it enhances the pink. I also make sure to not bring the bath to a boil, but to let it sit on low heat for several hours. I use powder but some prefer using the actual roots they can reuse over several baths and get different colours every time.

Plant #5 - Eucalyptus

I LOVE eucalyptus because if I have a garment with a stain I cannot get out, I create a eucalyptus dye bath that i mix with iron sulfate and get gorgeous greys. You can get super dark greys which is awesome so that you never see that stain anymore ! Although I love colour, sometimes you feel like an all black and grey outfit and it's possible to do that sustainably now. I planted 3 eucalyptus trees in my backyard and use their leaves for dyeing but also for relaxing. I just chop up a bunch of leaves, but them in a cotton bag and place it in my bath. It's amazing !

A Linen Jacket dyed with Eucalyptus
A Linen Jacket dyed with Eucalyptus

Naturally Dyed Clothing is IN ! Start Now

Get your old T shirt and dirty sheets out and start having fun in your kitchen !

Thank you so much for reading this and let me know what plants you like to use for natural dyeing :) Remember guys, we have to live more mindfully and be more eco friendly in our shopping. choices.


Mary Madeleine

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