Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Dye a Thrift Store Shirt Bright Yellow with Turmeric

Lacey and I take several walks a day around our neighborhood. It is a good thing for both of us. Lacey drains her high energy in a positive way. I get off my duff and exercise. Everybody wins!

Except weight. That, I am losing.  

Time to get some new clothes that fit!


I love the Minions! They look like Twinkies with eyes.

I bought a cotton shirt shirt at the thrift store during my tie dye frenzy last summer. It sat in the back of my closet because it was a little too tight.


The shirt fits now and isn’t too tight. The color was a dingy white I couldn’t whiten. I was about to buy fabric dye when I found a big bottle of expired turmeric in the back of the spice rack. I dye Easter eggs with turmeric. I wonder if I can dye fabric with turmeric?

Let’s find out.

How to Dye Fabric with Turmeric


You will need:

Vinegar (optional but recommended to keep the naturally dyed shirt from fading too much in the wash)
100% cotton shirt, clean and washed without fabric softener (fabric softener coats the fibers and keeps the dye from taking fully)
Large Pot
Measuring cup
Chopstick or nonmetal spoon you don’t mind staining yellow with turmeric

Dye it!

1. Combine four parts water to one part vinegar in the stockpot. Submerge the shirt into the mixture and simmer it on the stove for one hour. This will keep the finished dyed shirt from fading too much when you wash and dry it in the future.

2. Remove the shirt from the mixture and rinse the vinegar out of the shirt with cool water. l stopped when I could no longer smell vinegar on the shirt.

3. Wash the vinegar out of the pot first or grab a clean pot and fill it with water.

4. Carefully sprinkle and stir the turmeric into the water to make the natural dye bath. The more turmeric you use, the darker your fabric will be. I used 1/2 cup of turmeric because I wanted a deep Minion yellow.

Stir the spice into the dye bath to avoid clumps!

5. Bring the dye bath to a simmer, but not boiling for 30 minutes on the stove.

6. Submerge the damp shirt into the turmeric dye bath. Simmer the shirt in the dye bath for at least 30 minutes and Stir the shirt intermittently during that time so the shirt dyes evenly. I left my shirt on the stove for an hour because I was cleaning another part of the kitchen.

7.  After the allotted time, remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes for a lighter yellow or longer for a deeper yellow to set the dye. I left mine in the dye bath over night because Husband surprised me with dinner out.

My stainless steel pots are too small for this project so I used my not-used-for-cooking stock pot because the turmeric dyed the white enamel of my stockpot yellow.  Turmeric won’t stain a stainless steel stockpot.

8. After the allotted time, remove the shirt from the dye bath and rinse it with cold water until the water runs clear.

14. Wash the shirt in a large load of water with a teaspoon of laundry detergent. 

15. Dry the shirt in the dryer to set the dye.

16. Wear it and get your Minion on!


You can use this technique to tie dye a shirt yellow with turmeric. I dyed my shirt solid turmeric yellow because my shirt already has a pattern woven into the fabric of the shirt.

The turmeric dye ran a tiny little bit during the first few times in the washer and dryer just like the other projects I do with regular fabric dye but not as much as when I used regular fabric dye.

If you like natural dyes this one’s for you!

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1 comment:

Josh said...

Eight years later, I just wanted to say thank you so much! This worked perfectly. Needed a minion-yellow jumper for cosplay and this technique so easy and produced amazing results!

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