Eco printing

I started experimenting with eco printing around three years ago. I don’t really do neat look-a-like prints of leaves. I think they are so pretty and I would like to do that at some point. At the moment I work with limited Finnish dyeing plants and a very short nordic summer so I make do what I have. More research is needed! I also kind of like the more abstract way my prints look, they feel more like me. This post is a kind of summary of some things I tried over the years. I write this mostly for myself as its handy to have a diary to come back to when I have forgotten how I have done something. But if somebody else finds this useful how nice would that be!



  1. Mordant the fabric. (Here is my previous post on mordanting cotton and other cellulose fibers.)
  2. Lay fabric on an even surface.
  3. Fill a half of the fabric with plants etc.
  4. Fold the fabric in half
  5. Roll the fabric tightly around a wooden stick
  6. Twist strong yarn around the stick
  7. Steam the rolls in a pot with little bit of water on the bottom around two hours (or use double layer steam pot). I have used rocks on the bottom so the rolls don´t lie in the water. I also make a diy steamer with putting some foil on top of the lid.
  8. Open the rolls and remove the plants
  9. If needed wash the fabric, dry and iron.


You can use for example these things for dyeing (links to my previous posts):

Rusty items (nails, screws, pottle caps): Black or violet colour (The rust has natures own tannin that helps the colour to stick to the fabric.)

Rusty screws, black bean (that did not work in this) andmadder powder.

Onion skins: Strong yellow or orange

Onion skins and birch leaves

Red onion skins: brown or green.

Plants from the nature like birch leaves and lupin: yellow colours (I have listed a lot of plants from the Finnish nature that are good for dyeing on this blog).

Avokado skins (it did nothing), dandelion, birch leave, onion skins.

Turmeric:   bright yellow.

Surprise webcap: Orange/red colours. This mushroom is poisonous! Generally always remember to have separate utensils and pots for dyeing and cooking!

Surprice webcap (cortanarius semisanguineus) and onion skins

Madder Powder: red/pink or orange.

Pansy: violet or blue colour (The colour doesn’t last very long).

Above you can see my first ever experiments with eco printing, where I experimented with pansies and the colour did fade away quite quickly. Underneath birch leaves. Yellows are onion skins. I realized that it was better use quite a lot of plants to get the maximum colour.

Cochineal: dark aniline red.

I got to teach eco printing at a children’s summer cap in 2017 and they where so creative with it!

They really got some strong colour from the chochineal and the rusty screws!

Then we used the fabrics to sew pillows.

(I buy all the things I don’t collect myself from the Finnish Riihivilla online shop. Her blog also has so much good knowledge about natural dyeing both Finnish and in English)


Some natural dyes like berries and red cabbage are fugitive they fade over time, like the pansies I tried. Also natural dyes fade a bit in sunlight, that’s why you should never dry them in sunlight. Mordanting is important factor in fibres keeping the colours.

Of course time will have its effects as well. This is a bag I dyed back in 2017 when I was experimenting eco printing for this children’s summer cap and then there is the same bag 3 years later in 2020. You can see that the bag has faded a bit.

Eco printed bag made 2017.

Same bag 2020.

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