I bought the perfect shirt to kick off the farmer's market season and...I ruined it in the wash.
Reconnecting with my favorite local farmer from Block 20 Produce last weekend at the Lubbock Downtown Farmer's Market, I lamented my ruined shirt. But I had a plan: I had read this NPR article about naturally tie dying clothes with onions and avocado seeds. I grabbed a bunch of purple onions from her stall and she said "Why don't use you beets instead?" I didn't have a good answer. And her idea was better. So I grabbed a bunch of beets, too.
The internet is full of great ideas about natural tie dyes--with pictures, with a variety of natural products to use, and with a little sass. I took advice from all of them and I hope provides a how-to that meets makers somewhere in the middle.
What you'll need:
2 cups of vinegar
8 cups of water + 2 inches of water
1 bundle of beets
something to tie dye
1 hour + overnight
What you'll do:
1. Clean your Canvas
Wash your canvas--whether that be a stained shirt or a new towel to give as a gift, like Hello Nest suggests--with clean water to get out any dirt or laundry chemicals
2. Boil your Liquids
Fill one of your pots with 8 cups of water and 2 cups of vinegar (or enough to completely cover your fabrics in a 4:1 ratio). In the second pot, fill with about 2 inches of water. Bring both pots to a boil
3. Cut your Beets
More surface area = more color. Cut your beets to your desired size--I made about 1 inch cubes.
Once both pots are boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the fabrics to the vinegar/water mixture and the beets to the inch of water. Let both filled pots simmer for about an hour.
Note: make sure the beets are covered by the water. The water will reduce and you want to make sure your fabrics will have enough beet water to soak in!
After simmering, remove the beets from the beet water with a slotted spoon (and save the beets to make a picked treat!). Carefully remove and wring out the fabric from the vinegar/water mixture and place in the beet water.
How long you soak determines how vibrant your color will be. For safe measures, I soaked overnight. Soak for at least 3 hours.
6. Air Dry and Set
After soaking, wring out the fabrics and air dry--this might take a while, mine took the whole day after the overnight soak.
Once completely dry, set the dye by ironing the fabric with a hot and dry iron.
SPOILER: it's very important not to get too excited here...
Remember that this has been naturally dyed. When we do things naturally, we sacrifice some of the luxuries that come with modern life, like being able to wash and dry in a machine or keeping the color we *hoped* for. But we gain so much more. We are reducing waste by using something ruined to make something new; we are are exercising our creative spirit; and we also gain the joy of answering compliments of "omg where did you get that?" with "I made it myself."
Even though my beet tie dye is not beet red, I'm very proud of my beet red tinted beet tie dyed shirt and will proudly wear them to the market on Saturdays :)
Make a pickled treat! Mixed 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar (I like using rice vinegar). Add the boiled beets from your beet water. Mix in 1 TBSP of sugar and 1 TSP of salt. This, too, gets better the longer it sits :)