Dyeing with Natural Dyes | Avocado Pits

Dyeing with Natural Dyes | Avocado Pits

As you may or may not know I love to naturally dye fabric with Indigo & teach others how to have fun with this amazing natural dye.  One of the things that draws me to dyeing with indigo is not only the beautiful results you can easily achieve but how simple and magical the process is.

When I saw how Meredith from Spark & Pepper had dyed some packaging materials a beautiful pink I was intrigued. Meredith is a wonderful designer from San francisco and everything she creates is beautiful. I had been wanting to step outside of my comfortable Indigo zone and try some other natural dyes. I have had various successful & unsuccessful attempts with a variety of natural dyes. I've tried onion skins, rhurbab, tea leaves, coffee & cochineal. Tea leaves and coffee were beautifully simple and I was delighted with my results, however I found cochineal harder to achieve the vibrant hues I was looking for. When Meredith told me how simple it was to achieve these beautiful soft pinks I was determined to give it as go. 

For me one of the best parts of natural dyeing is being able to breathe new lift into old fabrics and fibres, to give new life to old & once loved. The avocado dyeing did not disappoint, it was so simple and the results were surprisingly wonderful! 

In the dyeing process you will often hear people speak about "mordants". A mordant is a plant or metal based fixative that is used to extend the colour & wash fastness of natural dyes.  One of the magical things about avocado puts is that they contain tannin in the seed that acts as a mordant that binds wonderfully to cotton fibres. The depth of the shares you can achieve depend on how many pits you use and how long you leave the solution to steep. 


Kathryn Davey Irish Designer & natural dyer

Vintage lace + tulle dress available in store


  • A big Pot ( big enough to hold whatever your dyeing)
  • 3 to 5 fresh and cleaned avocado pits per ½ pound of fiber (more pits will produce a stronger, deeper color)
  • Fabric or fibres that you are dying ( I experimented with tulle, vintage lace, linen, cotton & Alpaca wool) 
  • A wooden spoon for stirring & removing you fabric
  • Gloves ( I didn't use any but it would make life easier when removing if you did ! ) 

Kathryn Davey Irish Designer & natural dyer

Image from Spark + Pepper Instagram feed


1.    Pre-wash and soak the fabric & fibres of your choice in hot to warm water with a gentle fabric soap. The fabric can be left to soak overnight to best take the dye evenly. Rinse everything and keep it damp before adding to your dye pot.

2.    Fill your dye pot with enough water to cover your material and have enough room for the material to move freely in the pot.

3.    Gently wash your avocado pits ( removing any fleshy bits that may have stuck to the pit). Add the whole pits to your pot; the more pits, the darker the colour.  Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the avocado pits begin to turn the water to pink and then a deep maroon, should take anywhere between 20-40 minutes to see the colour change.

4.    Your material can be immersed in the dye pot either while the dye is still simmering over the heat or after the dye has steeped and cooled. I left mine in the pot for 1-2 hours, then removed it from the heat and let steep over night. The longer the fabric soaks, the more vibrant the pinks will be.

5.    When the material reaches your desired shade, remove it from the dye pot. Rinse it in warm to cool water with a gentle fabric soap & hang to dry.

 Have fun experimenting with different types of fabric and amount of time you steep in the dye bath for. Its always so fun to see how different fibres take up the the dye. 

Keep in mind that if you plan on dyeing wool or animal fibres make sure to place them in the dye pot once the colour has been extracted from the seeds and removed off the heat. Let them site overnight for best results. When your done, just give everything a gentle rinse and let dry naturally ! Its so easy and so fun to watch the fabric transform and to see the magic of the natural dyes happen right before your eyes! 


Kathryn Davey Irish Designer & natural dyer dyeing with avocado

Kathryn Davey Irish Designer & natural dyer dyeing with avocado

Above are a few photos of my results. You can see the difference between the hat on the left which is un-dyed and the one on the right, which I soaked overnight. Also you can see the difference in the intensity of colour between the wool fibre and the lace and tulle fabric above. Different fibres will give different results. 


If you have any experience with Natural dyes please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below,  I would love to hear about you successes or failures with natural dyes!  xo 




Jun 12, 2017

Hi Amanda

Thank you for your kind comment, hope you had positive results & a lovely Sunday x Kathryn

May 27, 2017

Do u soak the fabric in with all the pits?

May 24, 2017

Great info! Thank you! How long can I keep avacodo pits to use for dying? I eat a couple a week but need to dye about 4 lbs of gauze so would need about 40 pits!

May 21, 2017

So nice of you to share- I think I’ll spend my Sunday this way

Amanda Ashley
May 05, 2017

HI Megan, Natural dyes work best on natural fibers and to be honest I haven’t worked with viscose so I can’t say how it will turn out. Id say give it a try and see what happens! let me know how it goes xo Kathryn

Apr 22, 2017

Would this work on viscose? I have a white top made of it that I think I would love more if it was a beautiful shade of pink.

Feb 22, 2017

Thank you! this is great!
much love *

Jan 25, 2017

Lovely, just lovely
If you have a newsletter Ineould love to receive it

Margaret Murray
May 27, 2016

Dear Augusta, I tried to email you at the email address provided but unfortunately it would not work. I have not fixed mine but I tend to like the softer , washed out colours anyway. Apparently avocado contain natural tannins which help fix or bind the colour to the fabric. The colour will fade slightly over time but it shouldn’t wash away. Thanks for your question x kathryn

May 20, 2016

Hello, is the dye resistant to various washes¿ or should I treat it after dying with sometí y else so it dosen ’t wash away.


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