Natural Dyeing with Hawthorn

Natural Dyeing with Hawthorn


As you walk along country lanes and park hedgerows you will be greeted by the hawthorn blossom. It has finally sprung and it beckons for us to benefit from its feminine healing powers.

Hawthorn has its strongest affinity with the heart. Opening us to giving and receiving Love. It encourages self-love and self-acceptance strengthening our inner courage. In fact the word courage comes from the latin for "cor" which means "heart" suggesting that the vulnerability that comes with opening our heart is what it means to be courageous. We love to wear powerful herbs against our skin.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, its thin dermal layers absorbing the physical and energetic qualities of the plants, our allies, that we have been connected to for generations.

We have been experimenting with it as a plant dye. Using the flowers and leaves combined it creates a beautiful coral pink. 

If you would like to try this at home here are some instructions: Fill a saucepan full with flowers and leaves. Cover with water at least 2cm above the top of the hawthorn. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour then leave in to cool .

Use a pan large enough to allow the fabric some room if you want an even colour.

Place your pan on the hob and bring to the boil before simmering gently for 1 hour.

Keep checking to see how the dye colour is looking and when you are happy strain out the skins and place your material in the dye bath.


Keep on a gentle heat and move fabric around freely. For deeper colours leave the fabric to sit in the dye overnight and cool. 

When doing natural dyeing you need to prepare the fabrics. You can do this with a metallic based mordant (instructions here) or alternatively a protein rich mordant like Soya, Cow or Goats milk. 

For this fabric we mordanted with goats milk and water in a 1:1 ratio


This involved soaking the silk (you can use cotton or linen too) in goats milk, then putting on a spin cycle to wring out excess milk without leaving streaks before placing on the line to dry. Repeat this process without rinsing 3 times minimum. Once dry leave another 24 hours - 1 week to help the milk adhere.

For this mottled effect I crunched it up the fabric as I moved it about in the dye bath. 

I also took it out after an initial soak, dried it then placed it back in the dye bath. 

With Love + Knickers... 




How to Prepare your fabric for Natural Dyeing
January 19, 2022

How to Prepare your fabric for Natural Dyeing

Want to get excited with natural dyeing? 

We love natural dyes and natural dyeing. It's brilliant. Once you get started, we can assure you it’s very addictive.

Let's get inspired! Try some natural dyeing in your own home, its all about experimenting. 

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Most natural dyes require a fixative, which dyers call a mordant. These help the colours bind to the fabric. Washing, Scouring and Mordanting before the dyeing process gives the most reliable and consistent results.

So here is our our guide to preparing your fabrics in 3 easy steps.


1. Washing

To remove any grease from your fabric put it on a 40-degree wash with an ecological soap like ecover.

2. Scouring

Place fabric straight from the wash into a pot with enough water for fabric to move around easily. Add some ecological soap (the same amount you would use in the washing machine). Bring the water to a boil if using plant-based fabrics or to a simmer if using protein based like wool then keep it at this temperature for an hour before turning off the heat and leaving to cool. Then rinse in cool water.

3. Mordanting

Whilst there are plant based mordants (we will discuss in a later blog) for consistency and simplicity now we recommend a mineral based mordant called Alum. Alum (potassium aluminum sulphate) is considered nontoxic light metal mordant and you can use it with protein and plant fibres. The effect of alum on fibres is much improved by using an  “assist” to help the fibres absorb it completely. For plant fibres use soda ash to assist and for protein fibres use cream of tartar.

If you want any information about ingredients mentioned above we love to hear from you so GET IN TOUCH at


Weigh the fibre after it has been washed, scoured and dried. Use 8% of the weight of the fibre in alum and 7% of the weight of the fabric in cream of tartar or soda ash.

Place the fibre in a pot and allow it to soak for at least 1 hour. 

Fill a pot with water that allows the fabric to move around freely and be covered.

Dissolve the measured-out cream of tartar and stir with a long wooden spoon. Dissolve the measured-out alum and stir with a long wooden spoon.

Add the pre wetted fabric and bring the solution to a simmer, cover with lid and simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally to move the fabric and make sure it is being absorbed evenly.

Turn off the heat and allow fibres to cool in pot overnight.

Wring out excess liquid and rinse in cool water. Your fabric is now ready to start natural dyeing with! Use the damp fabric to add to your dye bathe.

Have fun, slow down and enjoy the process. When you are using natural dyes you will always create something beautiful. Good Luck!

 Prim x Ness