Dye cotton with red hazelnut leaves a beautiful lightfast and washfast green without mordant!
I was so surprised when I found out that red hazelnut leaves dye cotton fabric green! 😀 Despite most plants being green, it’s difficult to dye fabric green with natural dyes. In the past, green fabric was usually first dyed yellow and then over-dyed with blue dye.
But red hazelnut leaves turn cotton fabric green in one step! The green seems to be lightfast and washfast (keep in mind that all dyed fabric, even fabric dyed with synthetic dyes, will fade over time). And because hazelnut leaves are naturally rich in tannin, you don’t even need a mordant! By the way, red hazelnut leaves produce a much darker shade of green than green hazelnut leaves.
Dyeing cotton with red hazelnut leaves is fast and comparatively easy – great for natural dyeing beginners! So gather some red hazelnut leaves and start dyeing! 😀
How To Dye Cotton Green With Red Hazelnut Leaves Without Mordant
- fresh red hazelnut leaves
- pre-washed cotton fabric, cotton yarn or cotton clothing
1. Gather the leaves
Gather red hazelnut leaves. You need fresh leaves: it doesn’t work with dried leaves. I gathered the leaves in May: If you gather the hazelnut leaves later in the year they may produce a different color (probably more yellow or brown). I used 300g red hazelnut leaves to dye two cotton tank tops.
2. Shred the leaves
Tear the red hazelnut leaves into small pieces and put them into a pot. Because you don’t need a mordant, you can use a cooking pot for the natural dyeing process. But you can also use a separate dye pot to be on the safe side.
3. Add water
Pour boiling water over the red hazelnut leaves until they’re covered. Like most natural dyes, red hazelnut dye is heat-sensitive: So never heat the hazelnut leaf dye over 70°C (160°F) during the dyeing process!
4. Extract the dye
You can now add the fabric right away (with the leaves still in the dye pot). Or extract the dye first, remove the leaves and then add the fabric.
To extract the dye, let the leaves soak in the warm water. You can also heat the hazelnut leaf dye from time to time but never over 70°C (160°F)! If you heat the natural dye over 70°C (160°F), then the green color is destroyed resulting in a boring brown or beige fabric (see dye samples above).
5. Dye the fabric
After a while, the water will turn almost blood red – this can take between half an hour and a couple of hours. Now the red hazelnut leaf dye is ready for dyeing. Remove the hazelnut leaves. Then add the cotton fabric. Let the fabric soak in the leaf dye until you like the color.
Sometimes the cotton fabric turns aubergine or purple instead of green when you put it into the dye: Then the dye is too acidic. Like most natural dye, hazelnut leaf dye is also ph-sensitive. So if the fabric turns aubergine, purple or pink, add a small amount of baking soda until the fabric turns back to green in the dye. By the way, the aubergine and purple colors are not washfast (see dye samples above): Only the green dyed fabric is washfast!
In contrast to other natural dyes, it’s better to let the fabric soak for a short amount of time: even as short as a couple of minutes. Remove the fabric as soon as you like the color. I let my cotton tank tops soak overnight in the dye. And I let the (green) fabric scrap in the dye samples above soak for only about 15 minutes.
6. Dry & wash the fabric
After you’ve removed the fabric from the dye, let the fabric dry for about 1 day: this helps to bind the natural dye to the fibers making the fabric more lightfast and washfast. Then wash the fabric with warm water and soap. After the first wash, you can wash the hazelnut dyed fabric with similar colors in the washing machine.
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