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DIY-ify: Natural Turmeric Dye + Ruffled Lampshade

I’ve been pretty curious about dyeing my own fabric, but I wanted to go the natural route! So, to get the golden yellow/orange color I wanted, I started out my first experiment using turmeric spice. It worked out wonderfully and I love the finished product. I used my dyed fabric to make a lovely lampshade (inspired by a project in DIY magazine) and I want to share a quick how-to with you.

Supplies needed:

- Salt

- Water

- Fabric (I used cotton quilter’s fabric and a cotton blend). Amount will depend on your project. I used 5 yards of white.

- Turmeric

- Wooden spoon

- Lampshade

- Hot glue and glue gun

Natural Turmeric Dye


1. First, prep your fabric. Combine 8 cups of water and a 1/2 cup of salt, bring to a boil, add your fabric and let it simmer for one hour. The salt will act as a “fixative”, to help your fabric take the dye.

2. When the fabric is done cooking, drain the water. Once cool, wring out the remaining water in the fabric.

3. Time to start the color! Combine four cups of water with 4 tablespoons of ground turmeric, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and add your fabric to the turmeric dye mixture. Use your wooden spoon to push the fabric down into the dye, trying to coat it evenly. The longer the fabric soaks: the deeper the color will be. Plus, the dye will react differently for different fabrics. I wanted different levels of color to create the ombre look for my lampshade. I soaked 1 1/2 yards for 15 minutes, 1 yard for 2 minutes, and 1 yard for a quick 30 second dip. The remaining fabric I kept out of the dye.

5. Rince your dyed fabric in the sink until the water runs clear. Hang your fabric until it’s dry, and you’re ready to craft!

Ombre Lampshade


1. Cut up your fabric into one to two inch diameter circles. Don’t worry about cutting perfect circles, I certainly did not.

2. When your circles are cut, it’s time to glue. Fold each circle of fabric in half, and then fold it in half again.

3. Time to glue the folded circles onto the lampshade. Put a glue dot in the middle and outside center of your folded circle (I shared exactly where to glue in the photo below). Next, I used a needle nose jewelry plier to place the circle on the lampshade (keeps your fingers safe from the hot glue).

4. Continue gluing on the lampshade. I started with my darker orange on the base of the shade, and moved to the lighter colors as I moved up. Ending with the white. Just a little FYI: this glueing process did take me 3 1/2 hours. Wow, but so worth it. Because I love the finished product!

Have you ever tried natural dye?  I think next: I’m going to try out cabbage and onions for dye.

- Chelsey, The Paper Mama

P.S. the turmeric dye is very serious about staining. Watch out, it will stain everything. And, I mean everything. I may have forgotten to wear gloves, and had yellow hands for 3 days. Hee!

11 Responses to “ DIY-ify: Natural Turmeric Dye + Ruffled Lampshade ”

  1. The yardage doesn’t make sense. In the list of things to pull together it clearly says “5 yards of a quilters cotton blend” – yet below it states

    I soaked 2 yards for 15 minutes, 2 yards for 2 minutes, and 2 yards for a quick 30 second dip. The remaining fabric I kept out of the dye.

    2 (15 min) + 2 (2 min) + 2 (30 sec) + 1 (no time) = 7 yards of fabric.

    How much should you use 5 or 7 yards of fabric?? Thanks for clarifying.

  2. Sorry about that. Math is not my strong suit. ;) I fixed the fabric numbers. I didn’t type out the right numbers. Here’s what I used: “I soaked 1 1/2 yards for 15 minutes, 1 yard for 2 minutes, and 1 yard for a quick 30 second dip. The remaining fabric I kept out of the dye.”

    I hope that helps! The amount of fabric will be different for each lampshade. Depending on the size of the shade.

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