Dyeing with Avocado
Hi Creative Mamas! Let me show you a step by step process of how to dye fabric and yarn with avocado dye. In our house we love avocados, we even have an avocado tree! Needless to say we end up with a lot of avocado pits ans skins as part of our food waste.
When I started experimenting dyeing with avocado 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 pits (avocado pit dye) will produce a deeper pink tone. For this tutorial I will show you how to dye fabric and yarn with avocados 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.
So, 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. Always do a Fabric Burn Test to be sure you you have 100 % natural fibers. Natural dyeing will only work on natural fibers.
For this tutorial we will cover the following processes
- Scouring Process
- Mordant Process
- Dye Extraction/Dye Bath
- Hot Dyeing Method
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- Avocado skins and 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
- Pots and pans (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
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 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 will not as it may felt if exposed to high temperatures.
Step 2: Mordant Process
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 Bath/Dye Extraction
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 pot with water and the avocado skins and pits
- Bring to a simmer. Keep simmering for 1 hour.
- Turn the heat off and let it cool naturally. You can leave cooling overnight.
- Strain and use as dye bath.
- Remember that we are using 200% WOF (weight of fabric) So I am using around 700 grs of a mix of avocado skins and pits.
PRO TIP: It’s always better to soak your onion skins overnight before you start the simmering process. This will help start the dye extraction and will give you a better result!
Step 4: Hot Dyeing Method
Transfer strained dye bath to a stainless steel pot. Fill with more clear water. 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.
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 of dye. Hang it to dry away from sunlight.
PRO tip: If you are only dyeing yarn you can just leave it in the dye bath alone, however if you are dyeing fabric you must stir all the time to avoid streaky results.
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
The photo below illustrates the beautiful blush pinkish tones that are available to us through extracting avocado dye. 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. It produces a rose pink color which can of course be modified further by using the color modifiers mentioned above. See illustration below.
Using Modifiers to obtain different tones and colors
You can keep having fun well after that first dye immersion process. 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 from the original color. Original avocado 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 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.
Here are some really cool natural dyeing tutorials that you may like:
- How to make natural black dye with acorns
- How to dye fabric with onion skins
- The best way to dye fabric with tea
- Beginner’s Guide to Natural Dyes