A Family Builds a Homestead in the Rain

Dying Fabric with Berries

My husband and I married in a fun, lighthearted celebration on a grassy hill. I hand-stitched my own lacy gown, along with the bunting and other decor. Late in that perfect evening, while guests drank, danced, and played lawn games, I changed into a casual white sundress that I’d picked out a few days before.

During the night’s festivities, the dress was stained with who-knows-what (barbecue sauce? wine?), and, admittedly lazy launderer that I am, I never successfully removed the splotches. Yet over the years I have told myself I’d do something to salvage the garment and enjoy it again.

This week, as it so happened, I accidentally let a large bowl of wild berries and cherries go bad– I got to a couple batches of berry pancakes but never made the cobbler. Cringing at the thought of tossing them, I finally decided pull out my rumpled wedding dress and dye it pink.

Dying with Berries and Coffee Grounds

I filled a large pot with the 2 cups of blackberries, a handful each of raspberries and wild cherries, along with about 5 quarts of water. To achieve an earthier “dusty rose” hue, I tossed in a quarter-cup of coffee grounds.

Here’s the color I had in mind, from my daughter’s shirt:

I simmered the mixture for about 20 minutes, strained it, and returned the liquid to just boiling. Then I removed it from the heat and dunked in the white dress, saturating and turning it for even distribution, then covered and let it steep for about 10 minutes.

Using utensils, I placed the now-pink dress in a clean sink to gently squeeze the dye out. Then I dropped it into a bowl of cold water with a half-cup of dissolved salt and soaked it for another 10 minutes.

Finally, I again squeezed the dress out and hung it to dry. It held the color wonderfully, and I was very pleased with the hue, which lightened as it dried.

So if you’re inundated with blackberries or your strawberries grow mold, consider recoloring a blouse or dress rather than tossing them out! I’d rather wear pink than white, anyway. Many more dying experiments soon to come.

Shared on the Homestead Blog Hop.

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  1. June 30, 2015    

    Great post and I love your blog 🙂 good job!
    If you have time, please check out my fashion blog http://www.fiercevillain.wordpress.com
    Would mean a lot to me
    Lots of Love

    • June 30, 2015    

      Wonderful, thank you! I definitely will!

  2. June 30, 2015    

    I love it! I do stuff like that too — isn’t it fun and rewarding to repurpose things you might of thrown in the trash in the past? 🙂

    • June 30, 2015    

      I know! Unfortunately, the tendency causes my husband to think of me as a bit of a pack rat. But so many projects are immensely rewarding!

  3. June 30, 2015    

    What a cute idea! That turned out really nice

    • June 30, 2015    

      Thank you! I look forward to exploring some other hues.

  4. June 30, 2015    

    Great job! I keep meaning to get some undyed yarn and try something like this, but I suffer from the lazies.

    • June 30, 2015    

      Ugh, trust me, I suffer from the “what to do with this time?!” which easily translates into the lazies. Toddlers change everything, though, and “relaxation” becomes one of those exquisite, unattainable luxuries. So I get to tell myself that dying my dress was an accomplishment, and Voila! Pleasure time = accomplishment = amply spent nap time

  5. July 1, 2015    

    Cant wait to try it, love and light C.

  6. Talk about frugal! What a great old fashioned skill. Thanks for sharing on the Wednesday Homestead Blog Hop. Definitely pinning and sharing!

    • July 7, 2015    

      Thank you for hosting and sharing!

  7. July 31, 2015    

    This is such a good idea! Especially for items that were previously white and have gotten a bit dingy over time!

    • July 31, 2015    

      Yes! Thanks– give it a try!


I'm Kelly. Writer, crafter, forager, country winemaker, cook. Mama of an awesome toddler and married to my best friend. We recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, where we're setting out to grow, make, and learn as much as we can as the future unfolds.

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