7 Must Have Books on Natural Dyeing

Updated July 2022-

As a natural dyer myself I am continually researching new ways and techniques. I do my research mainly by trial and error, however this takes a long time and I am only able to innovate and get creative with the practice because I have done the basic processes so many times.

My students are always asking me which books should they buy to guide them in their own experimentation so I have put together a list of 7 must have books for natural dyeing.

pieces of wool fabric, silk fabric and wool yarn hand dyed using natural dyes such as cochineal, onion skins and eucalyptus

It took me some time to curate this list because I have so many books at home. Some of them are out of print which is annoying.

So I have made sure that these books are available for you to reference and to buy if you decide to invest some time in your own experimenting 🙂

The list that follows is in no particular order and it’s my own recommendation and review of the book after having read it and used it.

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The Natural Dyeing WITH FOOD DYES Manual is a 30 plus pages printable PDF that will teach you how to successfully dye fabric and yarn (wool and silk) using onion skins and avocados.

You will learn:

  • a simple natural dyeing method and process so that you can consistently dye fabric and yarn with onion skins and avocados
  • a great way to document your experiments so that you can repeat and replicate results time and time again
  • A quick way to classify and prepare your fibers

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This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.

7 Must have books on natural dyeing

These books are great sources of knowledge. They elaborate on the basics of natural dyeing, they give detailed information about natural dyes and they explore different methods of dyeing such as bundle dyeing, solar dyeing, eco printing.

The list and review of the must have books on natural dyeing

Book 1:

“The Wild Dyer, a Guide to Natural Dyes & the Art of Patchwork & Stitch ” by Abigail Booth

The Wild Dyer is a treasure for the slow sewer who wants to get into natural dyeing. A great first book for any dyer who is interested in foraging and harvesting their own surroundings. The book provides all the necessary processes and its divided into seasons for harvesting purposes.

It also provides the readers with many DIY “how to tutorials” to make pillows, throws, aprons and a bag. My favorite is the apron!

Book 2:

“Wild Colour, How to Grow, Prepare and Use Natural Plant Dyes” by Jenny Dean

Wild Colour is a great reference book to have if you are serious about natural dyeing. I use it as reference all the time and it has been a great teaching tool to share with my students.

It’s focus is on the technical part of natural dyeing, the combination of processes and techniques and a great source of information in terms of the color palette available to the natural dyer. Highly recommended.

Book 3:

“The Complete Guide To Natural Dyeing” by Eva Lambert and Tracey Kendall

The Complete Guide to Natural dyeing is another great resource and reference text book to have in your natural dyeing library. It provides you with all the information you need to get started in natural dyeing but also to extend your practice as you go.

My favorite is the color palette possibilities and how to modify the colors within just one dye.

Book 4:

“Natural Dyeing With Plants, Glorious Colours from Roots, Leaves and Flowers” by Franzisca Ebner and Romana Hasenohrl

Another must have book on natural dyeing and a great option for your library. Natural dyeing with plants is a great book that talks about the history and background of natural dyes. It has the basic processes but also references Solar dyeing and Eco Printing.

My favorite part of this book is the felting tutorial at the end followed by spinning and a how to tutorial of how to dye Easter eggs with plant colors.

Book 5:

“Botanical Inks” by Babs Behan

Botanical Inks is a great introduction to concepts of sustainability and why and how we can choose fabrics and processes that are best for our environment. The book covers all the basic natural dyeing principles but also goes in depth into several different techniques such as: Bundle dyeing, Ice flower dyeing, Hapazome, Indigo vats, printing inks, watercolour inks.

It also provides the reader with a lovely apron pattern 🙂

Book 6:

The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen and Cotton at Home, by Khristine Vejar

Another great book that not only covers the basic principles of natural dyeing but also provides the readers with lovely how to tutorials and patterns.

My favorite are the loose tops which I have made and they turned out great!

Book 7:

Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles, by India Flint

This book is a favorite of mine and definitely a must have book on natural dyeing super good resource to have if you are serious about your natural dyeing, specifically if you are interested in bundle dyeing and eco printing.India flint goes in great detail about natural dyes and she clearly lays out her philosophy around sustainability and the power of going back to nature.

There are detailed explanations about what materials are required for the practice of natural dyeing, as well as safe practices for the dyer, the wearer and the environment. The book also explains how to prepare, process and apply natural dyes, the different types of mordants available and their pros and cons.

India Flint is based in Australia and she writes extensively about the qualities of the different Eucalyptus varieties and the color they produce.A wonderfully photographed book that is worth having in your library as a resource but pretty enough for your coffee table as well.

6 thoughts on “7 Must Have Books on Natural Dyeing”

  1. Hello Victoria, many thanks for sharing this list of your current favourite books about natural dyeing. We have a small flower farm so the idea of exploring botanical dyes is very appealing. You mentioned older/out of print books in your collection – would you mind sharing any that have proven invaluable? They can sometimes be found in libraries or second hand shops & it would be great to know which books to look out for. Thanking you in anticipation 🙂

    • Hi Charleigh, thanks for your note. Here are some of these books that I have been given overt the years. They are quite old but you may find some of them still around 🙂 The use of vegetable dyes by Violeta – Thurstan, Dryad Press; Dye plants and dyeing, a handbook by Planys and Gardens volume 20, number 3; Natural dyes and Home Dyeing by Rita Adrosko – Dover; Dyes from Lychens nd Planta by Jusy Waldner McGrath – Reinhold hope this helps, reach out should you have any questions, cheers!

  2. Hi< I am running into some contradicting directions for dyeing with Hopi Black Sunflower seeds. Do any of the 7 Natural Dyeing books you recommend cover dyeing with seeds, specifically Hope Black Sunflower seeds? I grew some of these sunflowers this summer. I regularly have trouble with anthocyanin based red / burgundy dyes. It is frustrating.

    • Hi Jeanne, thanks for reaching out. As far as I remember these books don’t cover sunflower seeds. sunflowers won’t yield very bright and lasting color i am afraid, however I have used sunflowers in eco printing in combination with iron water, you can check out the results here: https://lacreativemama.com/eco-printing-with-iron-water-tutorial/
      If you are after rich reds and purples I suggest cochineal and logwood would be the best dyes to go for. Always remember that the full process needs to be done correctly in order to get best and long lasting results 🙂 Hope this helps!

  3. Hi – I’m a screenprinter and am looking to make paint-inks naturally. Would you have a book recommendation for this? Thank you

    • Hi Ellen, I am not aware of any book that dives into inks specifically, some of the recommended ones here have a page or 2, but my go to recipe would be to mix your plant dye such as logwood extract for example, a binder which can be gum arabic, corn strach, potatoe strach.

      For screen printing use 1 tsp of the gun arabic to 240 ml of water, mix well and leave until its thick. The next day mix 1 tsp of the extract dye with hot water. This will create a paste, if its too thick add a bit of more hot water. Mix with 120 ml of the thickened arabic gum , you can use this paste to print. Dont forget to mordant the fabric first 🙂

      Hope this helps!


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