Trend DIY: Plant Based Tie Dye

Emily Alben

We've all heard of plant based diets, but what about plant based dyes? Tie Dye has been one of our favorite summer trends, from kids tees to vintage sweatshirts to this epic Jimmy Buffet band tee, and we don't see it dissipating anytime soon. So we at BUHO HQ decided to get crafty and make our own out of vegetables and plants you may already have chilling in your crisper at home.


  • Blender
  • Cutting board
  • Vegetables or Plants (we used beets for red/pink, spinach/parsley for green, turmeric for a rich yellow and red cabbage for purple)
  • Knife
  • Water
  • Cheesecloth (one for each material so as not to mix colors)
  • Fine Mesh Strainer
  • Large bowl or measuring cup
  • Salt
  • Condiment bottles
  • Funnel
  • White t-shirt or other dyeable material (dyes will adhere best to organic textiles like cotton or linen)
  • Rubber bands
  • Baking sheet with rack
Beets before blending
May have taken a few bites of the materials before blending


  1. To make the dye: Chop up raw ingredients and place in a blender using a ratio of two cups of very hot (almost boiling) water to every two cups of raw material. For the beets we boiled before blending, and used the beet water for a richer color.
  2. For the turmeric, add one to two tablespoons of spice to every two cups of hot water. No need to blend or strain the turmeric, just give it a good shake before using.
  3. Blend mixture until it becomes a very fine slurry.
  4. When done blending, strain mixture through a cheesecloth lined strainer. It will still be hot so be careful!
  5. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of table salt in the liquid.
  6. Decant into condiment bottles with a small funnel.
  7. To prepare fabric for dyeing, wash fabric very well in the laundry as usual.
  8. Dry completely in dryer.
  9. Use rubber bands to create a pattern on your garment (we youtubed a few different techniques but do whatever feels right and get creative!)
  10. Pinch, pleat or fold fabric to make design.
  11. Once you're satisfied with your design, you'll treat the fabric with a fixative/mordant so that the dye will adhere.
  12. Mix 1 cup of salt with 16 cups of water and bring to a boil (or ½ cup of salt with 8 cups of water).
  13. Simmer your fabric in this solution for one hour prior to dyeing.
  14. When done simmering, run under cool water.
  15. Wring out a bit of the excess water.
  16. To dye fabric: Wearing gloves, squirt dyes directly onto the fabric. (Tip: You can use one color dye for a singular statement or all colors for a rainbow effect. We liked doing 2-3 colors then repeating for a concentric look.)
  17. Keep paper towels handy so dye doesn’t puddle or seep into an area where you plan to place another color. (Tip: We placed our shirts on a baking sheet when applying dye for easy clean up!)
  18. Once adequately dyed, put in a sunny spot for 6-8 hours or overnight for the dye to set. We put ours on the pavement here in sunny Venice which did the trick.
  19. Once rested, rinse under cool water.
  20. Remove or cut rubber bands and hang to air dry completely.
  21. Then to further heat set the dye, run the item through the drier on high for about an hour.
  22. Launder only by hand in a very mild detergent until you're confident it's set and won't run with your other laundry!
Tie dye t-shirts after washing
Tie dye fun for the whole family!

The final results.. We may have gotten a little impatient and rinsed after only a few hours (we won't tell if you don't!) The turmeric definitely stole the show with a rich golden hue that looked like sunshine. All in all it was a fun team building activity and gave us a glimpse into how much goes into the dye process behind clothing production on a much smaller scale.