26th November 2018


How to naturally dye your Christmas table linen

Why not use mother nature to enliven your Christmas table linen this year?  Yes, it’s truly possible to naturally dye your fabric using festive fruits, vegetables and plants getting fantastic results. To help Kirstie indulge in some colour alchemy, Lucy Rowan showed her how, using the parts of food that you would normally throw away. 

What you need:

Access to a hob


Rubber gloves

2 large pots


Muslin bags

100% plain cotton napkins

Clothes rail for drying 


Apple Cider Vinegar

Clean avocados skins and stones  (4 approx)


Table Cloth

Gold Rope 




Metal colander or steamer


The Process for the avocado napkins:

Pop the avocado stones and skins into a muslin bag. Make sure the skins are completely clean with no green flesh left. You can use fresh or stockpile in the freezer.

Tie the top of the muslin bag into a knot, then place it in a bowl of hot, simmering water. Gently simmer for about an hour. Gradually, you should start to see the colour of the water changing to a lovely blush pink colour.

Top tip: It’s essential that you don’t let the water boil otherwise your dye will turn out the wrong colour.

Then place your cotton napkins into the bowl and within a few minutes or so, the dye should start to take to the fabric, changing its colour.

To get the best colour from your natural avocado dye, take off the heat and leave your napkin/s to soak in the mixture for up to 24 hours approx.

Allow time for the napkins to dry on a drying rail and add your handmade napkin rings to finish.

The process for the eucalyptus napkins:

When dyeing fabric naturally, the results will vary depending on whether the fabric you use has been mordanted. A mordant is a substance which helps the dye combine with textile fibres, enabling the dye to become firmly fixed in the fibre. It also helps create a richer colour. Here, Lucy pre-washed her napkins in the washing machine to get rid of any chemicals before soaking them in soya milk for a few hours to mordant them. Then rinse them and dry before repeating the whole process again.

Spray your cotton napkin with apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will help to draw the colour from the eucalyptus to the fabric.

Then place some eucalyptus leaves onto the napkin in a pattern of your choice. Ensure the leaves don’t move out of place when you are folding.

Once you’re happy with your pattern, spray with some more apply cider vinegar.

Now fold your napkin and roll it up tightly. Tie it securely with string.

Then place your little bundles in a metal colander over a pot of boiling water with the lid over it to steam them, turning every 15 minutes for an hour.

To get the best colour from your natural eucalyptus dye, take off the heat and leave your napkin packages to soak in the mixture for up to 24 hours approx.

Then allow time for the napkins to dry and to finish off place your handmade napkin rings around them.

The process to make the napkin rings:

Twist the gold rope to make a figure of eight knot.

Finish off by bringing the two ends of the rope back together. Secure the ends by taking a thinner piece of cord and tying a simple shoelace knot around them.

Here is a link to a great little video on YouTube that will help you perfect the napkin ring knot.




Carrie Hunter