Indigo dyeing
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Wild Colours natural dyes > indigo dye > indigo dyeing


Dyeing with Natural Indigo Pigment
(Mayan Indigo, Tamil Nadu Indigo, Ground Indigo)

natural indigo dye vat

handspun wool dyed with natural indigo crystals

dyeing with indigo pigment (this page)

dyeing with indigo crystals (opens new page)

Indigo-dyed cotton using stitch resist | Wild Colours natural dyesYou can use the instructions below to dye beautiful blues with Mayan indigo, Tamil Nadu indigo and natural indigo dye on a very wide variety of materials. So far I have dyed knitting yarns, fleece for spinning, mother of pearl buttons, feathers, raffia, basket making cane, bone beads, cotton T-shirts, embroidery silk yarns, cotton and linen fabrics (and my fingernails by accident when a pair of rubber gloves developed a hole…). Indigo is also an ideal dye to use for tie dyeing and with shibori techniques.

What you need to start:

  • 10 grams indigo dye
  • 20 grams soda ash
  • 30 grams of Dithionite (Hydros or sodium dithionite or sodium hydrosulfite)
    or 15 grams Spectralite (thiourea dioxide or thiox)
  • 5 litres water at 45C
  • 1 kg fibre (yarns, fabric, etc)

Mayan indigo
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  • 10 litre stainless steel saucepan or stockpot
  • thermometer
  • electronic balance or scales
  • pH paper
  • teaspoons
  • 3-4 jam jars or other glass containers
  • stirring spoon

Follow the usual precautions of wearing rubber gloves, and a face mask when handling chemicals. Keep the saucepans, jugs, spoons and any other utensils just for dyeing and do not use them for food preparation. Weigh the indigo, soda ash and Dithionite or Spectralite in labelled jam jars rather than in the bowl of the balance or scales. Make sure your Dithionite is not too old.

See the Safety guidelines.


  1. Prepare the fibre (next page)
  2. Prepare the stock solution (next page)
  3. Prepare the indigo vat (opens a new page)
  4. Dye the fibre (opens a new page)
  5. Gallery of indigo-dyed cotton samples

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Wild Colours natural dyes, Studio 319, Scott House, The Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham B9 4DT, UK

Contact Teresinha for enquiries
Tel:    +44 (0)7979 770865

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Last updated on 16 July 2019
Website & photos by Mike Roberts ©2006-19 Wild Colours natural dyes


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