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DIY Vegetable Dyed Ribbons

My First Time Making Vegetable Dyed Ribbons

This week I took on the small project of vegetable dying my own ribbon. In the floral community hand dyed ribbons are a sought after item and for good reason. They are made using beautiful materials and the natural dyes give such rich yet subtle colours. I wasn’t trying to make an item that could compete with these professionally dyed pieces but I was definitely inspired by them!

I had such a fun time experimenting with this!  The colours that came from different fruits and vegetables surprised me totally. Usually, when I make tutorial blog posts I like to be confident in the information I am sharing. Let’s just say this post is a little bit different! Today I am sharing what I did during my first time vegetable dying fabric – what worked, what didn’t work, and the outcome. I’m not an expert here but I’m going to share the entire step by step process of how I did this – feel free to tweak it or follow it as you wish! I found that the process takes a bit of trial and error and there are more exceptions than rules! I loved this project though and how all the ribbons turned out. To boot, dying ribbon this way was super easy and seriously…so much fun!

What You Need:

  • ‘Ribbon’ or a length of natural material that can be cut/ripped into strips
  • A large pot that you are comfortable dying in (not one that you use for cooking)
  • A Stove
  • Tongs
  • DYE! ie. fruits and vegetables of your choice

Choosing Your Fibre:

You will have best results working with a natural fibre. The following are great:

  • Silk
  • Cotton
  • Linen

Since my small town Fabricland didn’t have any silk I went for a crinkle cotton!

Selecting your Dyes:

This was the most interesting part, on the photo below I outline what colour each fruit created. Avocado makes peach…what?!

I’ll outline what I found with each colour below.

Avocado – I used a mix of avocado and onion skins and this was one of the most reliable dyes of the bunch. I have read that avocado creates blush and onion skins create yellow which is likely why I came out with peach! I left the 2 ribbons in the solution for 10 and 20 minutes and the colour change is reflected. This dye held on the ribbon well and did not rinse off.

Cherry – Cherry created a very dark purple/pink water. The lavender colour was created by sitting in the solution for 10 minutes in and the blue is from 20 minutes and 2 rinses instead of 1. The dye held on the ribbon well and did not rinse off.

Raspberry – in search of a soft blush I tried another fruit – raspberry! The water became bright pink as did the ribbons. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the colour did not hold when rinsed and washed off completely to make a soft yellow. 20 minutes in the solution created a lovely yellow.

Blueberries – A lovely purple/blue created and I only left the ribbon in for 10 minutes. The dye holds very well when rinsed.

Beets – I was expecting deep pink ribbons in the end they produced more of a rusty colour. The dye washed away completely when rinsed so I opted not to rinse the ribbon but rather let them cool and just wring them out. Without a rinse the end result is a bit streaky.

Carrots – Don’t even bother.

Colour Conclusion

This was my first round of trial and error but I imagine results could vary by letting the water boil for longer; adding more fruit; leaving the ribbons in for longer; using different materials etc. There are so many variables!  I loved seeing all of the colours and the results are truly so pale and beautiful. Even if the colours were not as expected I loved them all!

How to Vegetable Dye Ribbon

  1. Cut or shred your material into lengths of your desired size. Crinkle cotton is a great material that you are able to shred straight without using scissors to cut the entire length. I made a small cut at the top of the ribbon and then pulled straight down. 2m of material was good to give the length that I wanted. The standard width of the material was enough to make 10 strands of ribbon and have the same amount left over – I’m going to make a runner!
  2. Bring a shallow pot of water to a boil. Use just enough to cover your ribbons to get a stronger dye. I did just 2 ribbons at a time because I was experimenting with different colours.
  3. Once the water has boiled add in your fruit/vegetables. Use approximately 1 cup of fruit for 4 cups of water.
  4. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Let your fruit soften and release the natural dye.
  5. Optional : remove your fruit. Removing the fruit will stop your ribbon from having imperfections/darker spots from the fruit. I opted to leave the fruit in for a deeper colour.
  6. Time to add your ribbons! First, wet your ribbons in regular water to get them wet and then add them to the simmering pot of dye.
  7. Allow the ribbons to sit for a while and absorb the colour. In most cases I liked the colour best after 20 minutes.
  8. Using tongs, remove the ribbon and place into an old bowl to rinse with cold water.
  9. Give the ribbon a very light rinse. I ran the ribbon under the tap going from one end to the other to ensure that the whole length was rinsed. This also removes the fruit pulp if you chose to leave the fruit in while dying.
  10. Wring out your ribbon and hang to dry!
  11. Once dry, iron and wrap!

So, How Did it Go?

So friends, there you have it! Despite the unexpected colour results I would definitely call my first time dying ribbon a success! The colours are beautiful and I’m so excited to use these to wrap up some bouquets and gifts.

Once you have this little system down there are so many options for what you can make! I am excited to try different fruits (like strawberries next…still on the hunt for the perfect blush!) and make different pieces. Thinking linen napkins, cotton table runners, silk sashes!

Have you ever tried vegetable dying before? I’d love to hear your experience and what colours and materials worked well for you!


comments +

  1. […] this year I vegetable dyed ribbons for the first time and shared the whole process here. This was such a neat project to try and I was […]

  2. Really impressing. Totally in love with this ribbons DIY tutorial.

  3. So beautiful! I need to start dying my own… buying silk ribbon is just KILLING me, or at least my income., ha!

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