Eco-dying your own fabric in 5 minutes!

One of the famous Liberty Print fabrics

Last Sunday we went to one of our local ‘beauty spots’ that we go to lots. Merton Abbey Mills is a lovely permanent market near the river Wandle, based on the site of an old (now buried) ancient abbey and also the place where William Morris (founder of the Arts and Crafts movement) made his famous Liberty fabrics. So much history all in one place.

An organisation called River and Cloth is running projects to re-discover how the fabrics were dyed. It was here that I discovered this very simple and quick way of dying your own fabrics to make gorgeous patterns – and also an ideal craft activity for even young children. If you visit the River and Cloth website there are loads of factsheets on this and other eco-dying methods.

Hapazome eco-dying method

Here’s what you do:

Get a piece of plain calico (or similar).

Gather leaves and flowers – you will need to experiment as some work better than others. Check out the River and Cloth website factsheets.

Place pieces of leaves, flowers, stalks etc… on one half of the calico.

Fold the other half of the fabric over the flowers and leaves

Using a rubber mallet (or something similar, guess a stone will do!), bash the flowers and leaves so that the colour seeps into the fabric. You will need to experiment with the amount of pressure.


Open up your material and admire your work!


When it is totally dry, iron the material (removing any remaining bits of plant). This will fix the plant dye.

The results are beautiful. I am told it will fade a bit with washing but I am intending to turn mine into a cushion cover so won’t wash very much. I have to add that I have never made a cushion cover before and sewing is not a huge strength of mine! I am eagerly awaiting Amanda Soule’s ‘Handmade Home’ – her new book, which Amazon tells me will arrive on Tuesday. Hurray! Maybe there will be simple instructions on cushion making there…if not, if anyone has a link, I’d be glad to know.

Have fun printing your own fabrics!

2 Responses to “Eco-dying your own fabric in 5 minutes!”

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  1. Barbara says:

    This sounds like fun. It is the end of the garden season, but there are still lots of plants to try. I will check the river Cloth website next. I do sew!

  2. Concetta says:

    Have fun with it Barbara!

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