This lavender dye recipe comes from the book Seasonal Plant Dyes by Alicia Hall. Find out how to use lavender leaves to dye natural fibers.
For tips on what supplies to use for fabric dyeing, fabric choices, and washing instructions, also see How to Dye Fabric Naturally With Plants.
The lavender fabric dyeing recipe and images from the book
Seasonal Plant Dyes by Alicia Hall
are used with permission from the publisher.
Dyeing Fabric With Lavender Plants
Of all the herbs you can grow, lavender is a sentimental favorite for many gardeners.
A versatile herb, lavender’s flowers are used in traditional herbal medicine, aromatherapy, and essential oils. It’s used to reduce stress and soothe away aching muscles, as well as being great for attracting bees and butterflies. Lavender leaves produce a soft grey dye.
Lavender has grey-green, highly scented foliage and spikes of aromatic flowers in the summer. The flowers are most commonly purple, but they can sometimes be pale pink or white. The plant will produce a gray dye no matter the color of the flowers.
Found in domestic gardens, lavender likes full sun and well-drained soil. It should be pruned yearly to keep it in shape, and to prevent it from becoming too leggy, with bare stems at the base.
The ideal time to prune lavender is in the late summer after it has flowered. This will give it plenty of time to put on new growth before the cooler months begin and will help it to flower earlier in the following year.
Remove the flower stalks (these can be composted) and take off about 2.5cm of the current year’s foliage growth, which can be used for dyeing.
Growth that’s harvested during the summer months usually produces a grey dye; leaves collected from early spring growth normally produces beige and light brown dyes.
See How to Grow Lavender for a complete growing guide.
Lavender Dye Recipe
From the book Seasonal Plant Dyes by Alicia Hall.
Common name: Lavender (Lavendula)
Type: Evergreen shrub
Dye Color: Gray
You will need: 2 to 3 large handfuls of lavender leaves. Don’t worry too much if the occasional stem gets in the dye pot.
Making the dye
- Put the lavender leaves in the dye pot along with enough water to submerge them.
- Heat the pot and keep it simmering for an hour before turning off the heat. Soak the leaves in the water for a day before removing them.
Dyeing the fabric
- Place the fabric in the dye, add more water if needed and gently simmer for 30 minutes to an hour before leaving the fabric to soak until you’re happy with the color.
Note: because it’s so highly scented, the smell of the lavender when it’s heating up can become quite overpowering, so it’s a good idea to dye in a well- ventilated space with a few extra windows open.
Related: 12 Lavender Crafts & Recipes
Fabric Dyeing Steps
- Wash fabric (see choices here) before dyeing to remove any finishes.
- Soak fabric in soya milk for 48 hours for better results.
- Air-dry fabric for one week to allow milk proteins to cure.
- Collect plant materials. Some colors use smaller amounts of plant materials, others require a fair volume. The good news is you can store them in the freezer until needed.
- Dye the fabric. Finally! Depending on the color, your fabric may sit in the dye pot for days or weeks to achieve the desired intensity. The good news is nothing is going to be ruined if you have to leave it for a period of time.
Caring for Plant-Dyed Fabrics
- As a general rule, use a gentle soap in cool water.
- Hang to dry, not in direct sunlight. This will protect the dyed fabrics that are vulnerable to fading.
For complete instructions (with lots of gorgeous photos), grab a copy of the book and start exploring all the dye possibilities growing in your garden.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Lavender Dye Recipe
Supplies & Materials
- 3 Handfuls Lavender leaves
- 2 Yards Cotton, wool, or linen fabric
- Wash fabric to remove any finishes and soak in soya milk for 48 hours prior to dyeing. Air dry after soya soak.
- Add lavender leaves to dye pot with enough water to submerge them.
- Simmer on heat for one hour. Turn off heat and leave to soak for one day before removing leaves.
- Add fabric to dye pot. Top up water if needed. Simmer 30 to 60 minutes. Continue soaking until desired result is achieved. Remove excess water and hang to dry.
Love nature-based crafts? You might also enjoy Naturally Crafty—see it here.