The holiday season is all about spreading love and good cheer—and so much of that involves gifting. But how do we take a material object and transform it into something that feels truly, genuinely personal, special, and meaningful? How do we take a “thing” and make it truly resonate? One of our favorite ways to make our gifts feel utterly special and considered is by the presentation. Gift wrap—so often paper destined to be discarded—can just as easily add immense thoughtfulness and beauty to your gift.
For this wrapping project, we were inspired by tastes and scents of the winter season, slowness / slow living and cozy comfort, the time it takes to make something by hand, and the idea of treasured keepsakes. By dyeing fabrics and then wrapping your presents in them, you elevate the gifting experience to something personal and positively dreamy.
We practiced a very loose, easy and accessible approach to dyeing fabrics. We’re skipping the “rules”—and really just intuiting the process of finding the hue that feels right.
You definitely do want to use a natural fiber, as a synthetic fiber won’t hold the color. Linens, cottons, and silks are all perfect here. And aren’t those our favorite fabrics anyway?
by Simone LeBlanc
What you’ll need
- Choose 1 , or use a mix of all three:
- Natural colored linen, lightweight Cotton, Silk
- Cut the pieces of fabric to the approximate size that you will need for your gifts. It’s always a good idea to have extra fabric cut to make sure you have enough!
- Cut a few small, extra strips so you can test the color of the dyes to see how they work with the fabrics.
- Tea Dye Bath — cinnamon sticks, cloves, tea bags, coffee grounds. We love this one because it really makes the house smell cozy and seasonal.
- Ruby-hued Dye Bath— Sliced pomegranates and beets (can add cabbage to make more purple).
- Optional: Vintage metallic thread which can be found on Etsy and Ebay. Or, you can choose a favorite twine or ribbon.
- Foliage bits to finish the gift, such as hearty flowers foraged from your neighborhood, local flower shop or mart—we love rosemary, magnolia leaves (their backsides are velvety), seasonal cedar and berries — really, whatever suits your taste. Just make sure what you choose is not delicate as you want them to stand the test of time and dry well.
- Gather your two sets of dye bath contents.
- Place items in individual pots of water and bring to a boil.
- Give a few stirs to release more of the color from the materials you are boiling and to keep an eye on the color. The longer you let it boil, the darker the colors will become.
- Let steep for 15 or so minutes. Adjust the mixture by adding more water (to lighten) or more ingredients (to darken) and achieve the color dye you are looking for. You can always use your test strips of fabric here to test the color.
- Strain the contents of your pot.
- Transfer the boiling dye bath to a large vessel for the dye bath. You want something rather roomy and not precious, as the dipping process can get a little messy, and you don’t want the fabric to be crowded and thus get an uneven exposure to the dye.
- Wet your fabrics with water thoroughly in the sink before immersing in the dye bath.
- Dip your fabric into the hot dye bath and let sit until the desired shade is achieved, checking every 15 minutes or so. Remember that the longer you let sit, the darker the resulting fabric will be. Also, the fabric will always look darker when it is wet. Don’t discard your dye bath until you are happy with the final color of the dried fabric–you always can submerge it again to darken.
- Remove the fabric and give it a quick rinse in a cold water bath. The longer you rinse, the more the dye will wash out.
- Lay the fabric out to dry somewhere with good air flow (outdoors is great!).
- Toss in the dryer on tumble to soften and add texture.
- Lay out your fabric and loosely tie your fabrics around your gifts in a simple Furoshiki style, using the twine or a pretty pin to hold the fabric in place. The look is meant to be loose, wabi-sabi, relaxed, so feel free to really experiment here. Treat your gift as a beautiful bundle, so no need to worry about a perfect finish or anything too buttoned up.
- For the final touch, wrap your lovely gift with that twine, ribbon or metallic thread of choice. Pop in some of your favorite foliage – tuck it under the fabric, adhere it with your twine – whatever strikes your fancy. You’ll be surprised by how beautifully the elements all come together!