Dyeing Fabric with Kitchen Scraps

four pieces of fabric dyed naturally yellow, purple, blue and pink
girl wearing a naturally dyed t-shirt that was white and was dyed pink with red cabbage
This used to be a plain old white t-shirt. Now look at that beautiful pink color!!
girl wearing a naturally dyed t-shirt that was white and was dyed pink with red cabbage
Modelling my updated white V-neck tee with a gorgeous pink makeover!
stacked fabric dyed naturally with kitchen scraps
DIY wall art of heart pillows four different colors dyed using kitchen scraps

Less Food Waste = A Healthier Planet

I have a mild obsession with figuring out ways to reduce food waste. 😋 Food is not only fuel for our bodies and minds. Food is the very thing that connects living beings with the earth. If we didn’t have the perfect elemental balance in our air and our soil, life wouldn’t be possible. If we weren’t floating in space on this green and blue planet at just the perfect distance from the sun, we’d either be an ice box or a blazing inferno. Say bye-bye to your avocado toast and smoothies because no food would be able to grow. What I’m really getting at here, is that we ought to be grateful for our food, and not let it go to waste. And one way is by dyeing fabric with kitchen scraps to make gorgeous crafts and update your wardrobe! Save money AND save the planet! 🌎🌍🌏

How to Dye Fabric Naturally with Kitchen Scraps

I made dyes from the last tiny bit of turmeric in an old jar and the remaining red cabbage after I made Thai-style tacos & quesadillas. Just these two kitchen scrap items created four amazing colored dyes!

Turmeric – Yellow 💛
Red Cabbage – Purple 💜
Baking Soda and Red Cabbage – Blue 💙
Lemon Juice and Red Cabbage – Pink 💟

I dyed an old white cotton t-shirt pink and I dyed strips of an old white cotton fitted bed sheet different colors and sewed them into little heart pillows that I hung on the wall as an art piece.

You can dye other things as well, such as Easter eggs or even other food like rice in beet mujadara or healthy vegan donuts to make it fun and unique colors!

white t-shirt and white fitted sheet

How to Make a Heart Wall Hanging with Dyed Fabric

Prepare the Fabric to be Dyed

1. Wash the fabric you wish to dye. It’s best to use natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, etc.) when dyeing with natural dyes. The natural dyes won’t adhere to synthetic fibers (such as polyester, rayon, etc.)
You want the fabric damp when you submerge it into the dye, so throw it in the washing machine but not in the dryer.

If you’re going to make a project like the heart wall hanging, you’ll want to cut your bed sheet into strips at this point, before dyeing them. I made a template for all the hearts with a piece of cardboard. I used this template to make sure the four strips of fabric were wide enough to later cut out the hearts.

cardboard heart template being used to measure strips of fabric to be dyed later
A cardboard heart template laying on a white fitted sheet to ensure the strips are cut the same width

Create the Dyes and Soak the Fabric

2. Roughly chop about two cups of red cabbage and measure out about ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder.

3. Fill one pot with about 4 cups of water and the turmeric powder.
Fill another pot with about 12 cups of water and the cabbage.
Bring both pots to a boil on the stove, then simmer both for 20 minutes.

4. Strain out the cabbage and divide the purple-dyed water into three pots. If you do not have three pots, just divide it evenly into three bowls for now.
In the first pot or bowl, add 1 tsp baking soda to turn the dye blue.
In the second pot or bowl, add the juice of half a lemon to turn the dye red/pink.
And in the third pot or bowl, just leave it plain, as the red cabbage alone is a gorgeous purple color.

Strain out the turmeric and return the yellow-dyed water to its pot and place it back on the stove.

four glasses of natural dye - yellow, purple, blue and pink

5. Add one strip of fabric to each pot with a different color dye and simmer for 2 hours, then let sit overnight to soak (8 hours). Stir when you can to make sure all nooks and crannies of the fabric get saturated.

If you don’t have four pots to all be simmering at once, leave the dye in its own bowl until a pot is free to add the fabric and let it simmer.

four pots and bowl filled with natural dye made from kitchen scraps with fabric in them, soaking in the dyes

Rinse and Dry the Fabric

6. Ring out the fabric and rinse in cold water until the water runs clear.

7. Hang your dyed fabric out to dry, then iron, as they’ll likely be very wrinkly.

four large strips of naturally dyed fabric laid next to each other

Cut Out and Sew the Heart Pillows

8. Using the cardboard template from step 1, cut out hearts. I cut out a total of 40 hearts. I cut out 5 of each color fabric, and then 20 of the remaining white fabric I had leftover.

a hand cutting out hearts from white fabric using a cardboard heart template
a flat lay scene showing someone cutting out hearts from white fabric using a cardboard heart template

9. Pin 20 heart pillows together by pinning a dyed fabric heart and a white fabric heart together.

10. Sew each heart pair together, but leave about two inches of space, in order to stuff them like small pillows so they have a more three dimensional shape.

close up of two fabric heart cut-outs pinned together

11. I stuffed each pillow with the scraps leftover from the fitted sheet and the dyed fabrics. You can also stuff them with other old strips of clothes, newspaper, plastic bags, or actual stuffing from the store or an old stuffed animal.

A hand stuffing a pink heart pillow

12. Sew the last few open inches on each heart pillow closed to secure them.

sewing machine sewing closed a heart pillow for the DIY wall art hanging

Assemble Your Wall Art

13. I hung mine on a large stick I found in the woods near my home along with some twine from the craft store.
Knot four long strips of twine to your stick, evenly spaced out.
Safety pin the back of each pillow to the twine.

Voila! An impressive, DIY heart wall hanging made from kitchen scraps and recycled materials!

DIY wall art made of naturally dyed fabric as an easy craft project to do at home
girl wearing a shirt that was white but dyed pink with a natural fabric dye

11 Replies to “Dyeing Fabric with Kitchen Scraps”

  1. Hui

    You are so clever! I never would have thought I could dye my own fabric – thank you for the inspiration and easy to follow directions!

  2. Yum-number1

    WOW that is a smart idea! And also a fun activity to do with crafty kids + reduce waste. Thank you for sharing this!

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