Introduction: Silk Dyeing With Natural Dye Extracts

Natural Dyes can be a lot of work to prepare from scratch, sometimes that is part of the fun but sometimes you just want to get right to dyeing. Natural dye extracts make it possible to use natural dyes with less prep time and greater predictability in the final shade. Let us show you how easy they are to use!

Step 1: Let's Get Started!

Here's a list of supplies you'll need:

Natural Dye Extract - We used Liquid Lac Extract Liquid

Dyeable Silks - We used Silk Boxer Shorts, Silk Camisole

Alum Mordant

Dharma Professional Textile Detergent (or Synthrapol)

Measuring spoons and a Pot to dye in (that will not be used for food use after)

Step 2: Mordanting Your Fabric

Your fabric must be clean and not oily or greasy feeling. We highly recommend pre-washing your silk with the Dharma Professional Textile Detergent, or Synthrapol.


Next we need to mordant the silk so the dye will fix to it. Mix 4.5 Tablespoons of alum (aluminum potassium sulfate) with about a quart of boiling water to dissolve. Add to a dye pot large enough to hold your fabric. Fill the dye pot with room temperature water and stir well. Add fabric to the dye pot and stir gently while bringing the heat up to 200°F. Hold at this temperature for 45 minutes rotating the fabric occasionally and allow to cool so you can handle it. Wearing gloves remove the fabric from the dye pot, drain and rinse briefly. You are now ready to start dyeing. You may mordant on one day and dye the next or mordant and dye in the same day. If you are mordanting in advance, store the mordanted fabric in a plastic bag in a cool place for up to one week.

Step 3: Add Your Dye


Measure out the desired amount of dye, we used 2 tablespoon for a slightly darker medium shade. Check the tables on the product instructions tabs for more suggested amounts and color mixing recipes. Add the dye to the pot filled with enough water so the fabric moves easily without excessive crowding. Stir the pot so the dye is evenly dispersed. Add the silk to the pot.

Step 4: Heating It Up

Begin heating the pot until it reaches 85-90°F. Stir occasionally, gently to avoid splashing. Hold at this temperature for 30 minutes.

Bring the heat up to 180-200°F and hold for 30-45 minutes. The dyebath should look very light or nearly clear (exhausted).

Step 5: Finishing Touches

You may let the fabric cool in the dyebath until it is safe to handle. Rinse the dyed fabric in warm water.

If the dyebath still contains a lot of dye, add ¼ cup white vinegar and continue a low simmer for another 30 minutes, then let cool overnight in the dyebath. Rinse in cool water with a little PTD to get all excess dye off. Lounge around in your lovely new silk jammies set!