english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe: Gathering Dye Plants


As part of #naturallydyedwardrobe, I’ve been thinking about the plants I can gather to create natural dyes.

It’s obviously important when gathering plants that you aren’t having a detrimental effect on the environment you are harvesting in. Many dyers work with a 10 – 20% rule, only taking a maximum of 10 – 20% of the plant they are harvesting, and leaving 80 – 90% behind. It’s also important not to harvest in environments with a no-harvest rule.

I’m sticking to plants that are abundant, and so not problematic in terms of gathering.

Currently I’m thinking about…


cupful of acorns

This Autumn, I really want to try dyeing with acorns. They produce lovely light browns, similar to dyeing with nuts. To produce a dye from acorns you need to first smash the acorns and soak them overnight. If iron is used as a post-mordant fibres dyed with acorns become grey-black.

Check out this post from Thicket and Thistle for acorn-dyeing inspiration.

Bramble / Blackberry

second handspun
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Both the leaves and fruit of blackberry plants can be used for dyeing. The berries produce a purple, while the leaves and shoots produce a yellow – brown. The fruit can be used from frozen as well as fresh, but like most dyes produced from berries has a tendency to fade. Alternative wild berries are Elderberries (pinks/browns with wool and silk; silver-grey with cottons), Damson (pinks), Blueberries (red-greys).


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I certainly won’t have any trouble gathering some nettles, which produce yellow-green colours.


I must know fifty ways to make yarn yellow.
Photo Source

Likewise with dandelions, whose flowers produce golds and khakis.


I don’t know enough about wild mushrooms to feel comfortable gathering them, but great effects can be achieved, as seen in this inspiring post by Folk Fibers.

Any other suggestions? Have you done any foraging for dye plants?


Author: Charlotte

Sewist, crafter & blogger, based in Birmingham, England. I'm spending the year growing and gathering to create natural dyes and enhance my sewing projects. Find me at www.englishgirlathome.com

7 thoughts on “A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe: Gathering Dye Plants

  1. this is a fantastic round up! It would be fun to get into natural dyeing more. I believe you have to collect quite a lot to get any intensity of colour though 🙂

    • It does take quite a bit. It’s typically twice the weight of the fabric/yarn, in your dye material. For some (zinnia/marigold/bidens) an equal weight should be enough. Dye extracts give a stronger colour more easily.

  2. I’m particularly impressed by the nettles. Who’d’ve thought they’d give such a pretty color?

  3. Really want to try neetle and accorn.

  4. Really want to try acorns and nettles !

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