as if I needed another reason to love avocados.
here’s a bare minimum, crash course on the botanical/plant dyeing trend…
now, I firmly believe that crafting is equal parts perseverance & blind luck. so, despite the fact that every tutorial I read was thick with fancy jargon like molecular structure and ph balance, and had a laundry list of supplies, I embarked on this journey equipped with only six things: avocado skins & pits, filtered water, white vinegar, a (enamel coated) stock pot, my trusty wooden spoon, and some white clothing items I couldn’t bare to toss out.
I have been saving up the pits and any salvageable skins, making sure to scrub each clean. then left them in the windowsill to dry until I had 8 pits and a fair amount of skins. it is said that you should freeze them but I did not.
it is also said that pure, organic materials dye best. which is probably true. but I used what I had, which was a 55% linen- 45% rayon blend tunic that had many a coffee stain on it and a cheap cotton tank I got on clearance at target. since this blog is about personal experience and is, by no means, an education on plant dyeing, I’m gonna go ahead and recommend that you try it with whatever you got and hope for the best. there are also plenty of legit spots on the internet that will recommend pre-treating the fabric and testing the dye with ph strips, but you came here, and I found it to be unnecessary. to each their own.
the quantity of items you are dyeing and how many avocados you have accessible are going to change the variables quite a bit from here, but again, I’ll throw at you what I did and let y’all run with it.
I filled my stock pot about a third of the way up with filtered water and tossed in the avocado scraps. this needs to come to a boil and simmer for at least an hour with the lid on. you will be able to see the color turn from a latte/tan to pink fairly quickly. the intensity of the color will deepen if you’re lucky to a beet pink/purple. that will get you to the bright blush color that I achieved. if you want a lighter tone, shorten the soaking time or use less pits. darker colors can be reached with an overnight soak and/or super saturated dye. trial and error, of course. at this point, you can add in your fabrics of choice, making sure they are covered by enough liquid. I added in two more cups of water as some had evaporated out. stir it around every 30 minutes for the next two hours on a low simmer. the linen fabric was thicker and partially synthetic- in hindsight, I would have let this item marinate a bit longer bc the color took really well but washed out a bit more in the rinse step.
I made several laps of excitement around the kitchen and shouted several proclamations of magic while these colors developed.
nature is pretty cool.
remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down just a bit. a half hour maybe, before adding in the vinegar. I did a 4:1 water to vinegar combo. this will help set the color just like when dyeing easter eggs. give it another good stir and then leave it be. it was a sunny day that allowed for an additional two hours of soaking time on my deck. you can also just set the pot aside anywhere convenient and allow it to cool and soak for as long as you’d like. trial and error, of course. my rule of thumb would be to let it do its thing until the fabric is a few shades darker than what you want the final outcome to be.
for extra fun… while it all rested outside, I grabbed a few mason jars that I had saved from our easter egg plant dye experiment in the spring. just to see what we could make happen. I didn’t put these on the stove at all, sun bath only. and the results were mixed. I’d say the heat is a must going forward. anyway, here are some other good options for dyeing that I’ve tried and tested myself …
- turmeric and curry- bright yellow
- coffee and cayenne- rust orange to brown
- onion skins- range from yellow to brown to orange
- dried chamomile flowers- a very pale green/grey
- red/purple cabbage leaves- bright blue
- cocoa powder- a mauve brown
- spinach leaves- pale yellow
- hibiscus petals- bright pink
now, here are some untested ingredients that the fancy bloggers say will work: beets, black beans, almost any berry, cosmos flowers, goldenrod, dandelion roots, or onion skins.
Godspeed, but you’re on your own with these for now.
the last steps are to rinse with cool (not cold OR lukewarm) water until the excess runs clear and most of the vinegar smell is gone. I’d suggest air drying at least part of the way. I put mine on the drying rack outside in the shade but you can toss it in the dryer if you must.
after care tips- hand wash gently in cold water. air dry or toss on low heat.
see, that was pretty simple. I did this whole process while taking small breaks on a work from home day. it could have been even less hands on if I weren’t so fascinated by the whole thing. it has opened up a whole new world of dyeing possibilities, especially with spill-prone little humans. (and spill-prone adult humans too, for that matter)
I may never look at white fabric the same again!