Myrobalan – the Natural Tie Dye

Don’t you love it when things go wrong but end up really right?! That’s how I ‘invented’ a new technique. Such wonderful way to make designs; Myrobalan – the Natural Tie Dye.

Tie one on:

When working with the Myrobalan I noticed a few awesome things! It is such an amazing natural material that reacts so quickly with the iron solution. Sometimes it would already be making some great colour prints before I was even ready, just by making that magic union with any of the iron.

So, it made sense to me to have some fun with the designs. I have loved doing my version of Tie Dye (not the hippy type) so it gave me some ideas. (if I could just figure out how to harness them all!) Why not tie up the fabric after being dyed in the Myrobalan ‘tea’? It’s almost like a shibori method or other way of scrunching/folding. The amount of Myrobalan would impact the strength of colour and contrast. To find your choice, a small test swatch helps.

How it works:

Since this is related to how I Eco Print I employed the use of an Iron Blanket to bring in the iron solution. I usually use Iron Sulphate or you can make your own with rusty items soaked in water.

The usual Tie Dyeing involves much dye and possible dipping. In this case I only used the Iron blanket wrapped around the tied bundle ( it does need to be wet enough with the ‘iron water) to come into contact with your tied piece. Simple and easy…

So much fun to open…


As you may know I tend to save energy to process by using my microwave for the heat factor. Once wrapped it is placed in a reused plastic bag and heated to about 180 degrees which is below boiling and popping the bag. My hands are usually the gauge (almost too hot to touch). Short zaps and turning prevent over-heating. As an extra way to utilize the heat the bundle is then placed under thick blankets/towels to process longer. That is much better than steaming for hours!

After it cools or even earlier, it can be opened. Wherever the iron managed to touch or bleed through will create that Myrobalan colour; that lovely purply-grey. It can be printed again if you desire. Give it a good wash and dry once. This lasts well, but be careful of using any bleaches or additives. I would treat it like designer clothes…

This lovely fabric is an up-cycled Bamboo sheet. It has a nice drape and softness very similar to silk. These are just simple folds, but shibori techniques open a lot of other design options!

Eco printing clothing has it’s challenges for folding so I rather print first and then sew it up to utilize the best parts of the designs.

I was always trying to pair the Eco printed fabric with some accent fabric, this was a perfect way to use up any small strips as well. The Myrobalan is great for the resist method of printing as any leaf shape can usually work, even if low on tannins; bring on the ferns!

A simple design, quite loose and sleeveless. Don’t the accent strips make ALL the difference!? Bring out your inner ‘Fashion Designer’!

Once you know you can print your own fabric, you will not look at yardage the same way again! How unique do you want to be?! And how do you like my model lady? She is always happy…

When I find a piece of clothing that I like I will trace out the pattern. I keep to uncomplicated styles and use the bias to edge the neck easily with a double-rolled finish.

Where did you get that fabric? How did you do that? Are those your leaves? Be ready with your answers!

You must be so excited to use nature to create such unique clothing, I know! Perfect; Myrobalan – the natural Tie Dye!

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  1. Well Barb you’ve gone and done it again! What a fantastic find. You are a real inspiration in this eco-dye game really! I do enjoy your posts and it is so good to have someone who is able to experiment with these different things and getting lasting results.

    Thank you so much for sharing your work with us all.


    1. Once you cross over into dyeing with natural elements you acquire some strange courage to pretty well cook up anything to use as a dye… Research and caution should be applied though! And it gets you outside!

    1. That is the colour that naturally appears from the reaction of the iron with Myrobalan. It is a bit more purple than blue. See here also. You can see it happen very quickly…

  2. Hi Barb…love your work. What is your ratio of Myrobalan to water to dye the fabric? Do you have to boil the tea/fabric or just let it sit for awhile.

    1. Thanks! I tend to be a bit less scientific and more artsy… When working with amounts they are usually measured by WOF (weight of fibre) 20-30% Myrobalan dissolved in very hot water does the trick but can be stronger if preferred. The amount of iron will also affect the outcome. I like to just wing it and see what I get… and then go from there. Take notes…

  3. Again, you impress me, Barb! You represent the best of the artistic community. (Without naming names, I am so frustrated with people who charge excessive amounts of money for their “secrets.”) Anyway, I’m curious to know if Myrobalan works equally well on protein and cellulose fibers. I’d love a silk scarf with a fern motif!!!