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 attracted 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, rhubarb, 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 a go.
For me one of the best parts of natural dyeing is being able to breathe new life 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 depends on how many pits you use and how long you leave the solution to steep.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- A big Pot ( big enough to hold whatever your dyeing)
- 3 to 5 fresh and cleaned avocado pits per ½ pound of fibre (more pits will produce a stronger, deeper colour)
- 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 ! )
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 overnight. 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. It's always so fun to see how different fibres take up 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 sit overnight for best results. When your done, just give everything a gentle rinse and let dry naturally! It's so easy and so fun to watch the fabric transform and to see the magic of the natural dyes happen right before your eyes!
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 your successes or failures with natural dyes! xo
I just added a more recent article on dyeing with avocado pits in which I tried to answer any questions that weren't answered with this piece. Please click here to see this post which will hopefully answer any additional questions