Smells Like Perfume?

Well hello there friend. Yes I was away again but this time I have a legitimate reason… I was on vacation. Here’s a picture:

Looks dreadful doesn’t it? I know I simply had the most miserable time. Any who’s now I am back and ready to pick up my habits again. Well I can barely call this a habit but we will ignore that. I wish I had some more experimental dying to show you this week but out garden is rather short on dyestuff supplies.

It seems to me that almost by July first every year our garden starts going downhill. So by mid August we mainly have snap dragons and  portulaca. This year we have Holly hocks and sweet peas  that we planted as well… But I haven’t gotten around to dyeing with any of it yet. And yes we are working on our mid-summer and fall garden display… It’s a work in progress okay. Anyways moving on since today I have nothing to show I thought I would share my experiences with the smells of  natural dyes!

My image of natural dyeing is generally this whimsical ethereal earth goddess image where you are cooking with flowers and getting amazing colours and maybe having a bird on your shoulder or something. You know a natural and beautiful earthy process. And you would think with this twinkly image that there would be  lovely perfumes radiating off of the steaming fabric hitting your face. Sounds nice right? But no the smells are not heavenly and wonderful. I think the best way to describe the smells that come off of natural dyes are stuffy. Now I am not saying that it is the worst smell to have ever passed my nostrils but it sure isn’t the best. Here I will give you some examples,

Mayday flowers: As I heated the dye bath a strong liquorice smell started to emerge but the soon took a turn for the stuffy


Crab apple blossoms: Started with no real distinct smell but then got a light stuffy smell (it wasn’t that bad to be honest).

Lily of the Valley: It just took on an overly cook Lily of the Valley smell, so stuffy, also on a side note this dye is technically poisonous so don’t put it down your drain pour it on some weeds outside.

Lilac: Again stuffy cooked lilac smell…

Fern Peony: This one did not have too much of a smell as the flowers themselves don’t really have a scent. But again it did have a cooked flower scent going on…

Wild Rose: A cooked rose scent….

Indigo: This dye does not smell good whatsoever. It is probably the stinkiest dye in this lot… It smells like piss…

Now for a good smell… I found that the pinecones that I tested out a while back had the best smell, the dye baths smelled like sap so I have nothing to complain about there.. Other than the sap that got stuck to the sides of the  pots I used and then had to scrub…


Now I don’t want to put anyone off by the smells because I received some gorgeous colours from these plants. I got butter yellows, vibrant green-yellows,  purples, pinks, browns, etc.. So I wouldn’t trade what my nose had to suffer in order to get these photos. I just thought it was high time that someone mention the smells that come with the territory of natural dyeing..

In the mean time I wanted to share a photo of the first shirt that I made, and dyed myself using alkanet, which is alcohol activated (meaning that you soak the dried dye stuff in clear alcohol before staining the liquid to add into the dye bath)…

It isn’t perfect but I am pretty happy with it! A bientôt!


3 thoughts on “Smells Like Perfume?”

      1. Good luck with the blog 🙂 It’s fun, isn’t it.

        While you’re doing tansy (a little late in the year now), try separating leaves and flower clusters in their own baths and you may get two different shades. It’s a great dye plant.

        Liked by 1 person

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