Dyeing with Nettle
Posted by : Mary Wutz /
Stinging Nettle is used universally in a lot of different ways. It can be consumed as food or medicinally, created into fiber, or created into a botanical dye. When using nettle to create a botanical dye, it produces a soft grey-green hue. Before you begin dyeing, you’ll have to collect your nettle. For dyeing, you want to collect the nettle leaves, but be careful to not take leaves that are homes for caterpillars or other insects. You will be working with stinging nettle, so there is a chance that you will get stung, it’s up to you if you want to use gloves while your collecting or just use your scissors or tongs.
What you’ll need
Aluminum Pot: Using aluminum works better to get the brightest hue possible!
Bowl for straining the dye into
Prewashed fabric: We recommend plant fibers!
- Place nettle in the aluminum pot
- Fill the pot with enough water to evenly cover the nettle
- Place the dye pot on the stove and heat very gently. When the leaves begin to soften, push them down below the water level.
- When the water begins simmer, turn the heat off. Once the heat is off, allow the nettle too steep in the pot for a few hours.
- Check the water in the dye pot regularly to see if the water is changing color
- It will look yellow at first and darken in a couple hours.
- You can monitor the dye color closer by putting a small fabric swatch in the dye
- Monitor the color over the next day or two and observe the color change
- Strain out the leaves when you find your perfect color of dye. This can take anywhere from 1 to 3 days.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve and make sure there aren’t any bits of leaf in the dye so they don’t become embedded in your fabric.
- Strain again if you find a lot of leaves in your dye
- Pour the dye back into your dye pot and heat gently for a few minutes
- Add in some extra water to raise the level of dye so there’s more space for your fabric to move around
- Now it’s time to add your damp fabric! Once the fabric is inserted, heat gently and stir with a wooden spoon, to ensure the dye is even. Simmer the fabric and ensure its submerged under the dye at all times
- Allow to soak as long as you like and reheat as you see needs!
- After a day or so, take the fabric out and squeeze out the excess dye.
- Allow to hang dry.
Wait a couple of days to rinse the dye out! And finally you have beautifully dyed, botanical fabric!
Photo and article from Dyeing with Nettles