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A cleaner wipes the toilet and the washstand with a towel. Then she picks up a coffee cup and wipes it with the same towel.
There is a certain beauty to natural dyes that you just can’t get with regular fabric dyes. Although the results aren’t quite as color-fast as store-bought dyes, they are gorgeous in their own way. The process is simple, and once you know how to do it with beets, you can try using other natural products, such as red cabbage or turmeric.
EditPreparing the Dye and Fabric
Peel 3 to 4 beets, then cut them into large chunks. The size of the chunks doesn’t really matter, but something between would work great. Don’t use whole beets, because they won’t release enough dye. You don’t want to cut the beets too small. If you do, the pieces will be harder to remove later on.
Place the beets into a pot, then fill the pot with water. How much water you use will depend on the size of the pot. Use enough water to fill the pot from the rim.
You will be boiling the water shortly, so the temperature does not matter.
Place white cotton or linen fabric into a separate pot. The pot needs to be large enough for the fabric to be able to move around freely. For best results, use something made from white cotton or linen.
It would be a good idea to wash and dry the fabric beforehand. This will remove any chemicals that might prevent the dye from adhering.
Natural dye does not stick well to synthetics, so use natural fibers, such as cotton or linen.
You can use this method to dye articles of clothing as well, as long as they are made from white cotton or linen.
Fill the clothing pot with a 1-to-4 ratio of vinegar-to-water. Fill the pot about a quarter of the way with vinegar first. Push the fabric into the vinegar to ensure that it’s soaked through, then fill the remaining three-quarters of the pot with water.
You are only doing this for the pot that has the fabric in it. Don’t add anything to the pot with the beets in it.
The vinegar will act as a fixative and help the dye adhere better to the fabric.
Alternatively, use 1/2 cup (150 g) of salt for every of water.
EditDyeing the Fabric
Bring both pots to a boil on the stove. Set each pot down on a separate burner. Turn the heat up to medium or medium-high, then wait for the water to come to a boil. This may take a few minutes.
Wait for both pots to come to a boil before moving on to the next step.
Reduce the heat to low, then let both pots simmer for 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Again, you want this to happen simultaneously for both pots. Turn the knobs for both burners to low, then wait for the water to reduce to a simmer. Set the timer for anywhere between 1.5 and 2.5 hours.
The longer you let the water simmer, the brighter the color will be.
Empty the water from the fabric pot. Use a wooden spoon, or something similar, to hold the fabric in place as you pour out the vinegar water. Don’t worry if there is some liquid left in the pot. Don’t empty the water from the dye pot.
Remove the beets from the dye pot. You can use a regular spoon to do this, but a slotted spoon would work even better. Discard the beets or save them for a recipe.
Save the red dye leftover from the beets. Don’t dump this out.
Pour the dye into the fabric pot, then stir the dye. Be sure to pour the dye slowly so that it doesn’t splash. Next, stir the pot to ensure that everything is submerged; you may have to poke the folds of fabric to get them to stay down.
You won’t be able to fill the fabric pot all the way. This is because some of the beet water evaporated while you cooked it.
Soak the fabric off-heat in the dye for 12 to 24 hours. There is no need to soak it for longer than that. Make sure that the fabric is fully submerged, however, or it may not dye evenly. If you need to, weigh the fabric down with a plate, bowl, or jar.
Take the pot off the stove for this. Don’t let the dye bath keep simmering for these 12 to 24 hours.
EditRinsing and Setting the Dye
Remove the fabric from the dye bath and squeeze it. Do not rinse the fabric, or you may lose some of that beautiful, vibrant color. Just pull the fabric out and gently squeeze the excess dye from it.
It might be a good idea to wear plastic gloves for this step. The beet water may stain your hands for a few days.
If you don’t mind a lighter shade of pink, you can rinse the fabric in cool water.
Dry the fabric in the hot sun or in a dryer. Heat is key to setting the dye into the fabric. If you live in a warm, sunny climate, drying the fabric outside work the best. Otherwise, toss the fabric into the dryer, and dry it on a low-heat setting.
If you are drying the fabric outside, keep a pot or bucket under it to catch any drips of dye.
Iron the fabric for 5 minutes to further set the dye. Adjust your iron to a no-steam, low-heat setting. Place the fabric on the ironing board, then iron it for about 5 minutes. Not only will this help further set the dye into the fabric, but it will also smooth out wrinkles.
Even though your fabric is made from cotton or linen, you should still use a low-heat or warm setting on your iron. Don’t use the cotton or linen setting.
There is a chance that some of the dye may transfer to the ironing board. Consider covering the board with an old, clean cloth first.
Hand wash the fabric in cold water only when necessary. Even with the added vinegar, this is a natural dye. It is safer for the environment than regular dye, but it is not permanent. To help preserve the color, hand wash the fabric in cold water only when necessary; avoid using a washing machine, if possible.
If you choose to use a washing machine, use a cold water setting. Wash the dyed fabric separately to avoid color transfer.
Use more beets for a brighter shade of pink.
If you want a lighter shade of pink, add more water to the final dye bath, after you pour it into the fabric pot.
Wooden spoons work great for this, but there’s a chance that the dye may stain them.
For a unique effect, tie rubber bands around the fabric first for a tie-die effect.
EditThings You’ll Need
White cotton or linen fabric
3 to 4 beets
Rubber or plastic gloves (optional, but recommended)
EditSources and Citations
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1404 – The Act of Multipliers is passed by the English Parliament forbidding alchemists to use their knowledge to create precious metals (it was feared that if any alchemist should succeed it would bring ruin upon the state)
1893 – British Independent Labour Party forms (Keir Hardie as its leader)
1895 – Oscar Wilde’s “Ideal Husband” premieres in London
1915 – Earthquake in Avezzano, Italy kills 29,800
1984 – TV anchor Christine Craft wins $325,000 in her case against KMBC-TV
2014 – 14 people are killed and 7 are injured after an explosion in an illegal gambling hall in Kaili City, China
More Historical Events »
1805 – Thomas Dyer, Mayor of Chicago (d. 1862)
1938 – Tord Grip, Swedish football manager
1960 – Takis Lemonis, Greek footballer and coach
1969 – Orlando Miller, Changionola Panama, infielder (Houston Astros)
1972 – Vitaly Scherbo, Belarusian gymnast (6 Olympic gold medals Barcelona 1992), born in Minsk, Belarus
1989 – Triinu Kivilaan, Estonian singer
More Famous Birthdays »
1691 – George Fox, founder of Quakers, dies at 66
1928 – Johan Peter Koch, Danish officer/explorer, dies at 57
1929 – Wyatt Earp, US marshall (OK Corral), dies at 80
1974 – Raoul Jobin, Canadian tenor (b. 1906)
1981 – Emiel van Hemeldonck, Belgian writer (Mary, My Child), dies at 83
2009 – William De Witt Snodgrass, American poet under the pseudonym S. S. Gardons (b. 1926)
More Famous Deaths »
Pressed flowers can be a beautiful addition to scrapbook pages or handmade cards. You can press flowers between the pages of a book, but stacks of books can be cumbersome and flowers are disturbed each time you add new ones. Instead, try making your own flower press out of wood, bolts, and cardboard to create beautiful pressed flowers you can enjoy for years to come.
EditFashioning the Press Covers
Cut 2 wood squares in the size you want for your press. Cut the wood with a table saw or a circular saw. You can make your press any size you want it to be, depending on the size of the plants you’ll be pressing. Between should be big enough for most projects.
For best results, choose wood that is or thick.
Visit your local hardware store and ask the employees to cut the wood for you if you don’t want to use a saw. Most hardware stores will perform this service for free.
Measure diagonally from each corner on both boards. Mark the spot with an X using a pencil. This will be the location for your drill holes.
Drill a hole through each of the marks. To ensure your boards will line up perfectly, drill through both of them at the same time. If you’re using bolts, use a drill bit. 
If you’re using a different bolt and you’re not sure what size drill bit to use, pick a bit you think is about the same size, then drill a test hole through a piece of scrap wood and make sure your bolt slides through easily. Adjust the size as needed.
Sand the surface of the wood. Use a medium-grit sandpaper or a sanding tool if you have one. Make sure the wood is smooth, especially around the holes you drilled.
Stain or paint the wood if you want. You can personalize your flower press by staining or painting it any color you want. You can also leave the wood plain if you prefer.
If you do use a paint or stain, allow the wood to dry completely before moving to the next step.
Try decorating your press with stencils or cut-out illustrations of flowers.
EditAssembling the Flower Press
Cut 2 pieces of cardboard and 2 pieces of white paper to fit your press. The cardboard and paper should be slightly smaller than your press.
Cut the edges of your cardboard and paper off. Once the cardboard and paper are cut to size, cut away the corners so the paper and cardboard will sit inside the bolt holes. You should cut off a triangle-sized piece from each corner. When you’re finished, the paper and cardboard should look like a square with the edges cut off.
The paper absorbs moisture from the flowers during pressing. You can use any kind of smooth paper, including newsprint, blotting paper, tissue paper, or smooth coffee filters. Avoid paper towels or other textured paper because it may leave an imprint on the petals.
Place 1 piece of plywood on the bolts. Slide the bolts through the 4 holes on the first piece of board, then place the board on your work surface. The head of the bolts should be facing down.
Layer the cardboard and paper on the press. You’ll add 1 piece of cardboard first, followed by the 2 pieces of paper. Top that with the last piece of cardboard.
Add another layer of cardboard and paper if you want. You can add as many layers as will fit on your press. Just cut 2 more pieces of cardboard and 2 more pieces of paper and add them on top of the first layer.
Even if you only make 1 layer at first, you can still go back and add another layer any time after you make your press.
Top the press with the second board. Once you have added all the layers of cardboard and paper, slide the last board onto the bolts.
Place the washers and wingnuts on the bolts and tighten them. You’ll put down the washers first, then the nuts. Tighten the nut just until it feels secure. You don’t want to tighten them too much, as you’ll need to raise and lower the nuts in order to add flowers to your press.
Wingnuts are designed to be gripped and can be tightened and loosened more easily than traditional nuts, but if you only have regular nuts on hand, you can use those.
EditChoosing Flowers to Press
Pick flowers when they are dry. The best time to pick your flowers is in the morning after the dew has evaporated. This is when they will be the most fresh.
Harvest flowers when they are about to open or just before their peak. Pressed flower buds are lovely, as are flowers which are fully bloomed. Try to pick flowers in a variety of stages for a natural look.
Select flowers with naturally flat blooms, like violets and daisies. Other flowers that press well include single-petal roses, Cosmos, California poppy, and Queen Anne’s Lace.
Flowers with bulky blooms, like roses or carnations, take much longer to dry and don’t look as nice when they’re pressed. You may want to hang them to dry them instead.
Remove any obvious stamens from your flowers. Some flowers, like lilies, have stamens which protrude from the petals. Remove these before you press the flower or the stamen will leave a stain on the dried petals.
Press leaves, ferns, and grasses if you want to accent your flowers. If you’re going to display your flowers in a frame, you can add other natural touches by drying leaves, grasses, herbs, and ferns in your press.
EditPressing Your Flowers
Unscrew the nuts to make room on your flower press. You don’t have to take the nuts all the way off, just loosen them enough that you can slide the flower into the press.
Place the flowers or leaves between the paper in your flower press. Make sure the flowers are not hanging off of the side of the press. Trim the stem or choose another flower if the one you chose doesn’t fit on the press.
Do not overlap the flowers. Arrange the flowers on the paper so they are not touching each other, or else they’ll be stuck together when they’re dry.
Tighten the nuts to close the press. There’s no need to force the nuts tighter than you can comfortably tighten them, but it should feel like it’s secured. You may want to check the press every few days to tighten it more as the flower dries.
Leave the press undisturbed for at least 3 weeks. You want to allow the moisture in the plants to completely dry in order to preserve them.
Add more layers of cardboard and paper if you decide to add more flowers. If you find more flowers that you want to press while you’re drying the first batch, add the new flowers to a different layer of cardboard and paper, and take care not to disturb the first set.
Store the flowers in a box or display them in a frame after they’re pressed. Pressed flowers are very fragile, so you’ll want to keep them in a safe place once they’re finished drying. Store them in a box until you need them.
Use pressed petals to decorate homemade cards, as a pretty touch in a handmade candle, or as decorative touches in a shadow box.
EditThings you’ll need
2 pieces of wood that are the same size
Saw (if your wood is not pre-cut)
Drill with 5/16-inch drill bit
Paint or stain (optional)
4 1/4-by-4 inch bolts with wing nuts and washers
Flowers or leaves
Arrange Flowers for a Small Vase
Fix Cut Flowers That Are Too Short
EditSources and Citations
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