Bloody Beets

Bloody Beets:  A Dyeing Adventure

by Cherie Weed

The Baron’s Men have a long tradition of attempting to create costumes and props in as period a fashion as possible.  Most of the troupe’s founding members have a re-enactment background, so it’s ingrained in us to attempt things that are a little…  weird to most people. This experiment definitely falls into that category…

Beets, beets, bloody beets!

Beets, beets, bloody beets!

Have you ever come up with a really great plan, only to have it not come out quite like you had expected?  This happened to me a few days ago.  I was soaking some beets before cooking them and the water turned a gorgeous burgundy color.  I thought to myself, “I must dye something with this!”.  So, I grabbed some kitchen supplied and started slicing up three of my farmer’s market beets.

Now, When I started this adventure, the water was dark with all the natural color from the beets.  I tossed in a scrap of linen (a little bigger than a fat quarter) into the pot of boiling water with a LOT of salt, vinegar and beet parts, then set the timer for 20 minutes and waited.

When the timer went off, I turned the heat down and put the lid on the pot and set the timer for 45 minutes.


Then I waited….

45 Minutes Later...

45 Minutes Later…


When the timer went off, I raced into the kitchen and pulled the top off the pot.  Steam soared into the air and I grabbed some tongs out of a drawer to fish out my linen.  And……  It wasn’t burgundy.  It wasn’t even pink.  It was barely beige.  I sighed, added more salt and reset the timer for another 45 minutes.

Then more waiting….

I was convinced that this time, when the timer went off, I was going to have the color I wanted.  The exact shade that was in the bowl.  Yeah, no.  Not even close.  What I got after two hours of boiling was beige.  It’s a nice beige…  Sort of ecru.  The beets had completely lost their color and were almost white.  But the color was still in the pot and not in my linen.

2 hours later...

2 hours later…

So, lessons learned:

1) Beets do not dye fabric red.  Countertops, yes.  Fabric, no.

2) Whipping a lid off a steaming pot in your fervor to see your fabric can singe your eyebrows.

3) My husband strongly dislikes the smell of boiling vinegar beets.


Next Step: Block Printing my Beet Beige Fabric.

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