Natural fabric dyeing with avocados and bamboo silk

Updated: Jun 11



A couple of weekends ago I shared my experience of dyeing our natural white bamboo silk fabric with an avocado pit (stone) and skins on Instagram. I had such an amazing response to it that I asked if you'd like me to share the method so you too can try avocado dyeing yourself, so here it is!


I've put together this blog post so you can refer to the process whenever you'd like. You'll also find the original stories in our Instagram highlights under 'natural dyeing'.




What will you need?

  • Fabric and/or trimmings for dyeing - they need to be made from natural fibres otherwise they won't take the dye well at all

***We used out natural white bamboo silk*** Our super soft bamboo/cotton jersey, natural trimmings and zips will also dye really well due to the natural fibre content of them. Basically, just avoid anything already coloured and if you're using materials you already have, avoid anything synthetic.

  • Avocado skins and pits (approx. 1 set for every 60g of material to be dyed)

  • 1 x large saucepan

  • 1 x large dyeing pot

  • 1 x stainless steel spoon

  • 1 x sieve

  • Water - approx. 1 litre for every avocado (clean rainwater can also be used too)


The Method


Preparing your avocado pit and skins, and materials


Clean your avocado skins and pit after eating the avocado and leave them to dry out before storing them in a dry cool place whilst you eat/collect enough avocado skins and pits for your project.


Iron or steam your fabric/s and ribbons/trimmings so that the dye won't sit in any creases when they're dyed.


Making the dye


Before you start dyeing your materials the dye needs to be made. I recommend starting this in the morning so can you carry out the process throughout the day.


Normally, for any dyeing process, a mordant (fixing agent) is required, but avocado pits contain tannin which acts as a natural fixing agent so you don't need one for this process.

  1. Put all of your pits and skins into a large saucepan and add in about 1 litre of water to every set of skins and pit you have.

  2. Bring the pan just to the boil and then turn it down to simmer. If you boil the water then the colour will turn browner and will be less dusty pink so be careful not to boil your dye when bringing it up to temperature.

  3. Simmer it for 30-40minutes and then turn the heat off and leave it to sit for an hour or so with the lid on.

  4. Do a few cuts through your avocado pits to allow the dye to come out (the pits will now be super soft)

  5. Place the pan back onto the heat and bring it to almost boiling point again, simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat again and then leave to stand with the lid on for an hour or so again.

  6. Repeat step 5, 5 or 6 times to get more colour out.

  7. When repeating step 5 for the last time then place the items your dyeing in another pan of lukewarm water making sure to move them around a bit so the water can soak into every crease easily. Leave the materials to sit in the water until the dye is ready.


To prevent too much liquid from evaporating from the dye, try to have the lid on as much as possible. If you find too much water is boiling off then just top up the water again so you'll have enough to cover all of your materials when dyeing them.


The darker the colour, the stronger your colour with be in the end. If it looks almost black then it's doing really well! Dip a little bit of tissue into the dye to test the colour.



Dyeing your materials

  1. Strain your dye into your dye pot using a clean sieve (you won't be heating your dye pot up so it doesn't need to be a saucepan).  Re-sieve the dye If any bits are left in it as they can create little marks on the fabrics.

  2. Wring out any excess water from your fabric/trimmings.

  3. Add your materials into the dye and then mix them around gently to make sure the dye can get to every part of your material.

  4. Weigh down your material with clean stones, something glass or cup/saucer. Just not something metal which could alter the colour of the dye as it may react with it.

  5. Leave everything to dye overnight.


The finishing touches

  1. Take out your materials from your dye pot and wring out the dye as much as possible.

  2. Rinse your materials to get any excess dye out from them and if you would like to you can gently wash them at this point.

  3. Hang your fabric to dry from the edge of the fabric if possible and hang your trimmings/notions up from the ends. If you fold your fabric/trimmings over the line then a mark might be left (I learnt this the hard way).

  4. Leave everything to dry out of direct sunlight.

  5. Steam/iron your fabric/trimmings ready for use.

*** Save your dye to water your tomatoes with, they love the dye!***



Do you fancy having a go yourself? Save your avocado skins and pits, find some materials or shop materials from our organic sewing shop


Happy experimenting,


Sarah

xxx


P.S. if you decide to try this yourself or if you have any other sewing makes/pattern cutting projects we'd love to see them. Tag us in them on Instagram using @thesewingretreat or comment below

Say hello we'd love to hear from you, our email is hello@thesewingretreat.co.uk

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