Natural dyeing with Madder


These Instructions take between 12- 36 hours to complete at the quickest. Please read through fully before beginning and
have fun!


This kit is designed to be as simple as possible and will produce even colors across the fabric. To learn more about madder and advanced dyeing techniques, see the links at the bottom.

required items

Will Not Stain/ Can eat from after cleaning
-Large Cooking Pot ≥10L (narrow)
-Kitchen Scale
-Face Mask
-Cooking thermometer (clean well after use)
Will Stain/ Should not be eaten from
-Bucket ≥ 10L
-Cook Pot or jar ≥ 1L (any shape)
-Large Stirring Spoon
-Spoon/ Cup for measuring
-Rubber Gloves
-One Jar at least 750 mL


-WEar gloves &

a dusk mask at all times.

-Keep from Eyes.

-Do not Ingest Materials.

-Do not inhale powders.

If materials do come into contact with your eyes or you inhale/ ingest them, call a physician.

Step 1

Soaking Madder (Best to do while scouring the fabric)
    1. Measure your desired amount of madder in jar, 70-100%
weight of fabric for medium pink-reds.
    2. Place the madder in your small cook pot or large jar. Cover with boiling water, stir. Let sit overnight.
    1. Fill large cookpot half full of water and bring to a boil.
    2. Measure soda ash at 35% weight of fabric into jar.
        Add slowly to warm water.
    3. Add wet prewashed fabric.
    4. Boil on low for 1-2  hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
    5. When done, let cool and rinse thoroughly.
        Set damp fabric aside.


Step 2

Mordanting the Fabric
    1. Measure 10% alum to the weight of fabric in the jar. Add boiling water and stir well until alum fully dissolves.
    2. Add hot tap water and dissolved alum to plastic bucket, stir.
    3. Place wet scoured fabric in the warm mordant bath, give it  few squeezes and leave to soak overnight. Stir ocassionally.
    4. Rinse and wring well. You can let it dry and finish dyeing another day, or leave it wet and move to the next step.

Dye Bath (Prepapre before rinsing fabric if dyeing same day)
    1. In the small cook pot (or jar) bring soaked madder to a low simmer for
an hour, keeping temperature under 70 C.
    2. Strain with fabric or paper filter into jar or dyeing bucket.
    3. Fill bucket with strained dye and enough water to cover fabric.

            Add 1-6% chalk to bring out more salmon tones.


Step 3

Dyeing, Finally
    1. For even color, unfold the wet fabric, remove creases and place the fabric into the dye bath. Move the fabric around through the dye bath, working the dye into every corner.
    2. Leave overnight for the deepest shade, stir occasionally. If you want a to remove early for a pale color, remember, wet fabric appears darker and some dye will rinse out.
    3. When ready, squeeze the fabric over the dye pot . Rinse well    with cold water. Wash with neutral soap by hand or in a machine with cold water. Hang to dry

Once washed and dry you have a wearable t-shirt! Store in a dark dry place as UV light and washing are the two main causes of fading.


Material Info

Sodium Bicarbonate, also known as Soda Ash, is a mild irritant. Most soda ash is mined with one of the largest deposits in the world in Wyoming. It has many uses industrially, including to scour fabric and as an additive along with lime to neutralize the pH of city drinking water.
Aluminum acetate is made from Bauxite, a type of rock, and acetic acid. It is primarily used for mordanting fabric and in medicines for rashes. It is a topical astringent and has antiseptic properties.
Rubia Tinctorum, also known as Madder or dyer's madder is a plant used for dyeing orange-reds and pinks on cellulose. It's a root but do not eat it, it is not food. Dye at 70-100% WoF for a medium orange-red, add chalk for a medium salmon.
Soda Ash For small amounts of soda ash, dilute in water and poure down drain/ toilet. For larger amounts neutralize with vinegar and then pour down drain.
Alum Best to dilute with water and slowly add to acid loving plants. Otherwise, dilute considerably and pour down drain. Note: You can reuse mordant baths see the links below for info.

Madder Compost. If you don't have a compost pile you can add this to the roots of your outdoor plants as a mulch.
Advanced Dyeing
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