Bundling Tips for Eco Printing

feature image of eco print unrolling

Are you trying to piece together enough information to make some amazing prints using botanicals? Making a tightly wrapped ‘bundle’ is key. Let me share my Bundling Tips for Eco Printing and make things a bit easier…

dowels and pipes

The Stuff:

Honestly, there are no precise exact rules to this ‘crazy’ amazing art form called Eco Printing but there are some common practices. Any method that makes a tight pressure between leaves and fabric can create a print.

I use old wood curtain rods cut into lengths that fit my processing (Lately mostly in the microwave). Some use metal pipes to add some of the metal/iron to the mix. Wrapping with string (or other strips of fabric) is economical and quite common. Butchers twine has enough strength and is made of cotton.

roll of string and dowel and scissors

A new idea:

When I taught my self how to tie-dye I needed to have really tight ties. To enable the hands to pull the string tight it is easier when holding it on a roll.

eco printing tools

I was tired of throwing away so much string so I wrapped it around an extra dowel… and an idea came to me!

illustration showing the bicycling of hands

The Innovative Concept:

This works best if both the ‘spool’ and the bundle are similar diameters. If not, you can adjust a bit while wrapping. Cross over the the first couple wraps to anchor the end piece. Start in the middle and ‘bicycle’ your hands round and round. Work out the wraps to the end as close as you prefer and then back to the middle, turn in your hands, and wrap to the other end, back to the middle and tie to the end piece.

If you’d rather watch a video:

How easy is that?! No cut fingers. There are no rules that state you need exact bundles, as India Flint bundles much more randomly and prints turn out differently.

basket of rolled bundles ready to steam

Before you know it you’ve wrapped a few bundles. Reusing is a good choice, so the plastic gets reused many times as well.

wrap in a wet blanket


To keep the bundles in a damp state while processing the the microwave they are wrapped in a wet piece of wool.

lifting leaf off eco print

You just never really know what amazing little reactions are happening inside those bundles… Red leaf prints a teal-like green!

bundled wool

Flat Tie Method:

Another problem can sometimes be the fact that the tying makes indents into the fabric especially of it is wool or thick. Since it is steamed it tends to be difficult to remove afterward.

bamboo mat bundle

Have you ever rolled a sushi roll? The mat that is used ensures a nice even roll. Using a simple bamboo placemat as a wrap before tying does the same job. It applies pressure quite evenly and also allows the moisture through if need be.

eco printed wool blanket

No lines visible from the string wrapping. Lovely isn’t it?! This became a great Wool jacket.

bundle, leaves and string

Don’t be afraid to try the Eco Printing bundling tips for some amazing art; silk, cotton, linen, or even paper. Just remember; mother nature does make some of this magic – embrace these kind gifts.

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    1. Toujours de merveilleux conseils pour cet art” fou à lier”.
      Je suis une glaneuse .je fais de l eco impression depuis 2016 .c’est toute ma joie de creative
      “Recup” .j ai 74 ans . Je ne pratique pas le micro-ondes. India flint et vous c’est chouette…cordialement yo.
      India fl

  1. Video was too fast for me to see how you tied the ends without cutting the string. Any way to slow it down? My poor old eyes just don’t work that fast! Thanks.

    1. Oh dear! I cut the string each time at the end and tie with the first ‘tail’, and then when I wind it back on the roll I just knot it again so it’s actually full of a lot of knots but it works well. You see the cross over at the beginning and that holds it in place until you tie at the end. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi barb, I just visited your blog 2020. And I have some problem with bundling method. I usualy ecoprint 200×115 cotton fabric and bundling withoud iron pipe or something like that. Im not happy with the result cz leaf print are not bold as yours.

    1. That is very large fabric. One of the key issues to have a good print is direct contact and tight bundling. Also you need to mordant and experiment with your leaf species and iron levels… It’s not an exact recipe. Maybe some smaller tests until you get what you are after. Cotton is more tempermental than other fibres. See here Good luck!

  3. Hi,
    I call you the woman with many magic hands, always generous in sharing information and details. I have a question: what is the idea behind wrapping bundles with plastic piece or sack as a final wrap? You are almost the only artist who does that, the major artists steam or boil the uncovered fabric bundel. Than.k you in advance for your reply. My best wishes

  4. Those are really helpful tricks of the bundling process. String everywhere. Yes. I’ll try the sushi mat today. Interesting.

  5. Great tips! But my question is about the plastic. I’ve been using cling wrap like saran wrap.. yours looks easier to manage. Is it just light weight plastic from hardware store?


  6. Cosas hermosas haces !!! Felicidades 🙏las panty medias de mujer sirven para amarrar los paquetes ?? No se , vi unas qué tengo rotas y me vino la idea si podría ser posible ???

    1. ‘ You do beautiful things!!! Congratulations 🙏Women’s pantyhose are suitable for tying packages?? I don’t know, I saw some that I have broken and the idea came to me if it could be possible???’

      I have not tried it, perhaps other stretchy fabric from upcycling can also be used or t-shirts cut into strips.