Natural Dyeing with Avocado dye
Hi Creative Mamas! Let me show you a step by step process of how to dye fabric and yarn with avocado dye, my favorite natural dye. I absolutely love avocado dyeing!
In our house we love avocados, we even have an avocado tree! Needless to say we end up with a lot of avocado pits and skins as part of our food waste.
When I started experimenting with avocado dye I wasn’t sure what kind of results I was going to get, but I have been so impressed over the years about the range of color that this fruit alone can produce.
The skin of the avocado ( or avocado skin dye) produces a pale blush color while the avocado pits (avocado pit dye) will produce a deeper pink tone.
For this tutorial I will show you how to dye fabric and yarn with avocado dye and also how to modify the colors with modifying agents such as lemon juice and iron water.
I will be using protein fibers such as silk and wool since they are the quickest and easiest fibers to dye with as a beginner dyer. Fiber classification and knowing exactly what fiber you are working on is critical in natural dyeing because you need natural fibers to be able to absorb the natural dyes.
Get started with avocado dyed fabric and yarn
It’s very important that you do a fabric test to ensure that your wool is 100 % wool and it’s not acrylic and the same goes for fabric.
Before you even start preparing your natural dyes, always do a Fabric Burn Test to be sure you you have 100 % natural fibers. This method will only work on natural fibers.
Also its a great idea to start saving avocado pits and avocado skins for a while before you get onto dyeing fabric or yarn.
For this tutorial we will cover the following processes
- Scouring Process
- Mordant Process
- Dye Extraction
- Hot Dyeing Method
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Materials for Avocado dyeing
- Avocado skins and avocado pits (stones) for best results use 200 % of weight of fabric/yarn
- Mordant agent: Allum, (Alluminium Sulphate) since it’s the safest option for myself and for the environment
- Dye pot (Stainless steel) whatever you use it can never be used to cook food again!
- Stirring wooden spoons
- Neutral PH soap
- Heat source
- Plastic jug
- Rubber gloves and face mask
- Plastic bowl and bucket
- Silk and or wool yarn/wool fabric (The wool yarn must be in the form of skeins of yarns)
Before you start make sure that you weigh your fabric. My fabric weighs 350 grs and its a mix of wool yarn, wool fabric and silk fabric.
Tutorial: How to dye fabric and yarn with avocado dye
Step 1: Scouring Process
It’s very important to ensure all fibers are clean from oils, dirt and industrial processes. I am using wool to dye yarn and wool fabric (an old blanket from the thrift store) and silk. I will be washing them together so I will use hand hot water temperatures.
The silk can withstand higher water temperatures but the wool yarn and the wool fabric should not be exposed to high temperatures to avoid felting.
Step 2: Does Avocado dye need a mordant?
YES! You must use a mordant when using avocado dye to make sure that the color will last for a long time. My choice is Alum because its a very reliable mordant and it’s non toxic to the environment.
Note: Always use a face mask when handling the alum for super good protection.
There are many recipes out there, today I am using the following recipe: 10 % Allum WOF (weight of fabric). So, I started with 350 grs of fabric and yarn so I am using 35 grs of Allum.
Step 3: Dye Extraction/ Dye bath
OK, so this is the most fun part. This is when you get to play to be an alchemist or a scientist/chemist! In order to extract the color from the avocado skins and pits follow the steps below:
- Fill a big dye pot with water and the avocado pits and skins.
- Bring to a simmer. Keep simmering for 1 hour.
- Turn the heat off and let it cool naturally. You can leave cooling overnight in the dye pot.
- Strain and use as dyeing liquid.
- Remember that we are using 200% WOF (weight of fabric) So I am using around 700 grs of a mix of avocado skins and avocado pits.
PRO TIP: It’s always better to let the avocados steep overnight before you start the simmering process. This will help start the extraction and will give you a better result!
Step 4: Hot Dyeing Method
Transfer strained liquid to a stainless steel dye pot. Fill with more clear water. (Always make sure there is enough water to cover the natural fiber)
Add the mordanted and pre wetted fiber to the dye bath. Make sure there is enough space in the pot so that the fabric and yarn can move freely.
When you are dyeing yarn you can leave the skeins of wool yarn in the pot by itself but when you are dyeing fabric you must always move it around to avoid streaks in the dyed fabric.
Slowly raise temperature to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour. Remove from the dye bath. Rinse fiber in lukewarm water. Make sure the water runs clear. Hang it to dry away from sunlight.
PRO tip: If you are only dyeing yarn you can just leave it in the pot cooling overnight. However if you are dyeing fabric you must stir all the time to avoid streaky results. The longer you leave the natural fiber the deeper the color will be.
The colors will change once your fabric and yarn are dry. If you want a deeper brighter tone of pink you can leave the dye bath soaking for a couple of days before straining the avocados and doing the dyeing process.
Results of natural dyeing with avocado dye
The photo below illustrates the beautiful blush pinkish tones that are available to us through extracting the avocado dye from pits and skins. In this example I used two different qualities of silk.
Color differences between avocado pit dye and avocado skin dye
My students will always ask me if there is a difference in color when we use avocado pit dye by itself versus using avocado skin dye. the answer is a resounding YES! I describe the difference below and the steps to follow so that you can replicate the results 🙂
Extracting color just from the avocado skins
Follow the same steps 1 to 4 but only use avocado skins on step 3. The results are quite different when you are just extracting the dye from the avocado skins. It produces more of a deep blush color. See illustration below.
Extracting color just from the avocado pits
Follow the same steps 1 to 4 but only use avocado pits on step 3. The results are quite different when you are just extracting the dye from the avocado pits.
The avocado pits will produce a rose pink shade which can of course be modified further by using the color modifiers mentioned above. See illustration below.
Pro tip: For a darker and more deep shade of pink use more pits per fabric ratio. You can try using 300% WOF.
Using Modifiers to obtain different tones and colors
Once you have dyed your fabric or yarn with a particular dye you can carry on modifying the color further with the use of modifiers. You can extend the range of the color by obtaining different tones or even by changing the color completely.
In this case I have used two modifiers:
- An acid modifier by using lemon juice
- An alkaline modifier by using iron water
How to modify the color using lemon juice?
Allow the dye bath to cool down to room temperature. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to the dye bath (the fiber is in the bath). Stir to make sure that the fiber is moving freely and that the modifier is reaching all areas of the fiber.
Leave for fifteen minutes. the color should turn to a mandarin orange tone. Remove from dye bath, rinse well and dry.
How to modify the color using iron water?
First of all you need to make the iron water. Iron water can be used as a pre mordant and a post mordant to act as a color modifier. Bellow is the best way to make an iron water solution.
Download your FREE PDF Iron Water Solution Recipe plus access to my entire FREE Resource Library by completing the form below.
Now that you have your iron water, you are ready to modify the color. Allow the dye bath to cool to room temperature. Remove the fiber and pour the iron water by mixing a 1:1 ratio of the iron water and clear water.
Stir to make sure that the fiber is moving freely and that the modifier is reaching all areas of the fiber. Leave for fifteen minutes. the color should turn to a darker and duller tone. Remove from dye bath, rinse well and dry.
The following illustration shows the modified tones in the dyed yarn and dyed fabric from the original color. Original color is on the left, followed by the lemon juice modified color and the iron water modified color is on the right
Also, the illustration at the bottom shows the original color obtained from the avocado skins and pits on the dyed yarn and dyed fabric on the right and on the left is the result obtained by using the leaves of the avocado tree. I have printed the leaf onto the fabric.
If you want to learn how to do Eco Print on fabric read here.
What can go wrong with natural dyes?
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. One thing is very important to remember: This is not an exact science. You will obtain different results depending on the the following variables:
- the type of water that you use
- the amount of mordant that you use
- how long you simmered the dye during the dye extraction stage
- the type of dye plant that you use, this can vary depending on the soil characteristics in your area.
A friend and colleague of mine is getting a bronze color from her avocado dyed fibers and I am getting a soft brown and a pale pink.
We are both getting our dyes from our own avocado trees from our gardens and we are following the same processes, times and measurements. This makes me think that the actual fruit is different and its resulting in different tones once the dye is in contact with the fibers.
Is avocado dye colorfast?
If you follow the right process outlined in The Ultimate Guide To Natural dyeing as well as follow the exact steps described in this post you should be able to get really good colorfast results.
What is colorfast?
Colorfast means colors that will not fade and will not rinse out. If you follow La Creative Mama Natural dyeing Method you can be sure that your colors will be colorfast :).
Here are some really cool tutorials that you may like, (using natural dyes from the kitchen and garden):
- How to make natural black with acorns
- How to dye fabric with onion skins
- The best way to dye fabric with tea
- Beginner’s Guide to Natural Dyes
You can create beautiful tones of bright yellow and gold from dyeing with onion skins.
You can also create dark greys and blacks from acorns by modifying the dyed fiber with iron water.
But if you want to get started and avoid the whole mordanting and extraction stages check out the tea dyed fabric tutorial for a quick and easy way to dye fabric and yarn using tea.
I personally like the pink hues that the avocado pits produce. I am also very drawn to using the avocado leaves which produce a yellow color. If you are just starting out with avocado dyes I suggest you collect a few avocado pits and you start with producing pink tones.
You will be excited and amazed at the results!
Click here for lots of inspiration on natural dyeing. You will find tutorials about solar dyeing, fabric printing, tie dyeing with natural dyes, eco printing on paper, kids activities such as tie dye t shirts and flower bashing for printing fabric. They are all super easy to follow natural dyes tutorials!