DIY to Done: Bengala-Dyed Fabric

Photo courtesy of Loop of the Loom

Photo courtesy of Loop of the Loom

It’s funny how sometimes you say you want to do something, and then there it is, just daring you to make good on your promise.

This past weekend at Maker Faire, I got my chance to make go on my desire to go deeper into textile explorations. In this case, with fabric dyeing.

Thanks to Yukako, a talented textile artist who has brought both Saori weaving and Bengala dyes to the U.S., I tried my hand an all-natural, mineral-based dyeing process known as Bengala.

It was love at first sight.

What makes Bengala dye so unique is its source. Bengala is made from ground minerals found in soil, rather than from plant or chemical sources. It is completely eco-friendly and, if prepared properly, resistant to UV rays and the sort of fading that general plagues fabrics. It also does not require hot water.


When I arrived, Yukako and her team gave me a length of white cotton fabric that had been pre-prepared. We the soaked the fabric in clean water, folded it in three strips, and folded those folds into triangles, just as my fellow attendee is doing in the photo above.

Then I selected two matching wooden shapes from a box of many; in my case, I chose triangles. We clamped the shapes down on  either side with a C-clamp, leaving the edges of the fabric exposed.

Clamping fabric

Clamping fabric before dyeing – Photo courtesy of

Finally, I began dyeing the fabric by dipping the exposed portions in pots of dye, taking care to ensure the dye seeped all the way down to the seam where the folded fabric disappeared inside the clamped wood.


After I completed my dyeing, the fabric was clothes-pinned to an open-air line and allowed to dry for about forty-five minutes.

My colors actually came out a lot brighter than some of the other samples; Yukako told me it was because I had taken so much time to dye, double-dipping colors and enhancing them with a layer of other colors. Interestingly, dipping dyes in different pots did not seem to corrupt any of the colors.


And voila! A beautifully-dyed fabric piece made with some of the oldest pigments known to mankind.  I ironed it at home to seal the color. Now, it’s ready for use in another craft project.

Photo courtesy Loop of the Loom on Etsy

Photo courtesy Loop of the Loom on Etsy

I immediately had lots of idea of how to use this piece of fabric. (Christmas present time is coming up, after all!) Additionally, I brought a kit of the dyes home and plan to experiment with them on some plain cotton fabrics I have. And did I mention it’s also well-suited to hand-spun yarn . . . something else I want to try, very soon?

I’m excited to have found this new technique and can’t wait to share it with you!

Learn more about Yukako & Bengala Dyes at Loop of the Loom.

What about you? Have you found a new arts or crafts technique that’s got you excited? Share it here, and show off a photo of your work!



8 thoughts on “DIY to Done: Bengala-Dyed Fabric

  1. I love dyeing, but I have always used plant based dyes. Many years ago, I took a class in spinning and dyeing with plant based dyes. I loved it, it’s one of those things i could get back into in a minute! When I worked in theater, I did a lot of the dyeing–one of my favorite jobs! Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

      • I worked at Indiana Repertory Theater, Center Stage in Baltimore and Hartford Stage Co. While we lived in Hartford I also did freelance work for Yale Rep., Stage West, the Hartford Ballet and Pilobolus Dance Co. I was a costumer. In other words, I made patterns, dyed fabric, made shoes and all kinds of assorted sewing. If you can wear it, I can probably make it. My favorite period is late 19th century. 🙂 I also did some costumes for re-enactors which were 18th century and Brigade of the American Revolution.
        I’ve never acted, but I have dabbled a bit in playwriting. I have an unfinished play hanging around somewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Karla – Aw, thank you! The thing that has helped me the most (with creativity) is realizing that everything can be learned. It’s not about ability, it’s about openness and willingness to explore, try, fail, and get better. You can do it! 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you come up with.


  2. Hey, Lisa!
    I just found this link from Google search. Thank you for posting many pictures and details about the process you experienced. Also I’m glad that you like Bengala colors. Just I want to let you know the link of the Bengala has been changed to
    When you make a new project, please let us know. You are so creative!


    • Thank you, Yukako! I will change the link. Also, I experimented a bit with my dye kit last week — prefixed a white-on-white patterned cotton, and the result was very pretty, as all of the patterned portions remained white while the background took the dye. I am traveling again this week … When I get home I will likely dye the fabric again to experiment with how dark the background can go. I will share the results with you!


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