How to Naturally Dye Fabric With Coffee Grounds

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This weekend I needed to do a sustainable project for school and during my research I found out that some clothing brands use fabrics that are dyed naturally.

Well, let me start from the beginning of this story.

About 10 years ago, I started to research about natural dyes and how could I dye fabric at home. During my research I found out that you can dye fabric with vegetables and fruits peels. I was amazed with my discovery and started “playing” with all that vegetables and fruits that I had in my kitchen.

I discovered that onion peels will give you an yellowish color and that the beets would give you a brownish color… unfortunately.

With that said I stopped with my research and continued buying fabric from the local stores because I was disappointed with the results of my attempts.

10 years later, this last weekend, with the school’s project I start researching more and more on the internet and I found some basic (very basic) information about the subject.

I then discovered that fabric need to be prepared before the dyeing process and a solution needs to be done so the color can lasts after its application.

If this is your first time here at the blog and you don’t know me well, my name is Eloisa, I’m 43 and studying Fashion Design. Nice meeting you!!!! I love handmade crafts, cooking, soap making and everything that is natural.

In my school’s projects and designs I always try to incorporate natural fibers and I always, I mean ALWAYS think about comfort .

My favorite medias are fabric and paper, both have fibers and this fascinate me. But for today’s post I’m talking about how could I dye my fabrics naturally at home?

For it, we need to use natural fibers fabric. You cannot use onion skin to dye a polyester fabric. For that is good to use a store-bought dye.

The “Rit Dye More” is specially formulated for synthecthic fabrics.

Cotton, silk, wool and hemp are examples of natural fibers so you’ll be able to dye them with vegetables and fruit peels, flowers, seeds… this is all about experimentation!

But before start trying some steps need to be done, and for that I discovered a great book that talks about natural dyes that will guide you on how to make this magic happen.

This book is very simple to read and Abigail Booth, the author, explain everything you need to know about dyes, the process, tools needed and everything that is important for you to know before starting the process. I really recommend this book and if you want to buy you can click on the book icon and a small percentage of the purchase will be back to me, but you will not pay any cent more for that!

I was so excited with all of this, that I wanted to start dyeing some cotton fabric that I bought in Brazil. This cotton fabric is a flour sac fabric and it is thicker and good for the kitchen. And for the dye, I had coffee grounds.

So let me show you what I did!

First I washed the fabric in the washer machine with hot water. In a pot that I have just to do all my dyeing and experimentations (I use this pot only for dyeing, you should do the same!) I added water, a little bit of detergent and one spoon of baking soda. Put all the fabric that I just washed and let it simmer.

We do this to let the fabric free of any impurities so the dye will work better in the process.

After simmering for about 1 hour I let it cool and then I washed the fabric and let it dry.

While I was preparing the fabric to be dyed, I got some coffee grounds from the day before (the one that I brewed my coffee) and added it into a bucket and let it soaked in water overnight.

On the next day I added more used coffee ground to my solution and put in a pot to simmer a little bit so I the coffee grounds would let the water with a darker color.

After simmering for about 15 minutes I strained the liquid into the bucket and added the fabric. The fabric must be wet to absorb more the coffee solution.

Adding the wet fabric into the coffee solution

I let the fabric soaking in the coffee solution for about 20 hours, then I washed the fabric again with water and let it dry.

This is the result of the color. It is a faded beige color that looks so natural! I really like it! But I confess that I was expecting a darker color.

Attention: For this project I didn’t use any mordant because coffee ground has tannin that works as a natural mordant. Mordant works as a fixative for the dyes. But for some other projects I will use a mordant so the color will get darker and will help on the colorfast.

I hope you like my experiment and next time I will try to dye the fabric with avocado peels!!! I’m loving it all!!!

Thanks for your visit! If you have any comments or questions, leave them below!


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