DIY No-Sew Tea Towels with Homemade Fabric Dye

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 DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

Ever since I first used fabric dye, I’ve been hooked. No piece of fabric or article of clothing was safe from my dying desires. Stained baby clothes can find a new life with a bath in colorful dye as well as grimy towels and faded jeans.

I came to a point where I wanted to experiment with homemade natural dyes, kind of like Kristin’s playdough, that would look good and be easy to make. It turns out, I’ve been living under a rock. There are plenty of natural dye options. In fact, people have been doing it for centuries!

DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the first color that came to mind was a mix between yellow and burnt orange. Sure, straight up orange would have been more festive but I’m a sucker for yellow.

DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

To achieve this color, I used turmeric powder and yellow onion skins. Next time, I may add more onion peels to achieve a more orange hue.

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DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

After making the dye and preparing the fabric, the fun part (read: messy) begins. I did the dip-dyeing outside to prevent any extreme stains inside. It was a lot of fun to experiment with different patterns. Of course, my clothesline snapped immediately after hanging my freshly dyed fabrics. I rinsed of the dirt and re-dipped one of the pieces of fabric, which gave it a more messy look than I was intended. You win some, you lose some – right?

DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

Overall the process was pretty easy. To make matters even easier, you could just buy a pack of white tea towels instead of linen fabric. Also keep in mind that this tutorial could be used to make place mats as well, just make sure to purchase a thicker linen fabric than you would for tea towels.

DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

  1. Start by preparing your fabric dye: In a large pot, bring 2 tablespoons of turmeric, onion peels, and 4½ cups water to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour and a half.
  2. Strain out the onion peels and allow the dye to rest overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Next, prepare the fabric. Cut two 17-inch by 22-inch rectangles from your linen fabric. This size works well for both place mats and tea towels.
  4. Place the fabric in a large pot with 2 cups of vinegar and 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour. Rinse the fabric under cold water. Refill the pot with more cold water and allow the fabric to cool in the water.
  5. To dye the fabric, pour the dye into a rectangular container (this is to ensure semi-straight lines while dipping the fabric). Fold the fabric in half the long way. While holding one end of the fabric, slowly dip the other end into the dye. Pull the fabric up and repeat the dipping at varying heights to achieve an ombre look.
  6. To dye both ends of the fabric, fold the fabric in half long way twice, then in half the other direction. Dip the fabric so that both ends are submerged into the dye at the same time.
  7. Hang the fabric to dry completely after dying.
  8. Once dry, Rinse the fabric in cold water (I did this by running the rinse cycle of my washing machine).
  9. Use the hem tape to create the tea towels without a sewing machine. Begin this by folding the fabric over one-inch on one of the longer ends and pressing the seam down with an iron. Then, cut the hem tape to the appropriate length and insert it into the fold. Activate the adhesive by pressing the iron down on the seam for 30 seconds. Repeat this on the parallel side.
  10. Next, repeat the same process on the shorter ends. This will assure that the corners will turn out nice and flat.

The “where to buy” links are the products recommended for this project. As always, shop around as these supplies can also be found at local craft and grocery stores.

 The possibilities for homemade fabric dye are truly endless. I see naturally dyed throw blankets, scarves, and dip dyed shirts in my future. Will there be any dyed goodness in yours?

DIY No-Sew Natural Dye Hand Towels and Napkins

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  • Thanks. I really enjoy your info & warm spirit. I’ve recently become interested in dyeing. I went to a historical period event when folks dyed their own cloth & yarns, etc. The ladies demonstrating, had become fascinated as well. We are planning on working together on a Dye Garden of plants, at my place. I’m excited to learn & share this ancient craft.

  • FYI, Vinegar is an acid and used as a mordant for protein fibers such as wool and silk.

    Cotton and Linen respond best to a basic PH dye bath. Alum is the typical mordant used to dye linen since medieval times.

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