Photos and Tutorial by Christie Sommers
In my last tutorial, I showed you one way to carve avocado seeds to make a pendant necklace. Today I will show you how to turn those failed attempts and carving scraps into a dye suitable for dying natural fibers like wool and cotton.
This is a simplified method that will result in a subtle, warm pink/rust color. If you are looking for deeper color saturation, or if you require colorfast results for fabric that must hold up through multiple washing, you will need to use a mordant. I’m keeping it simple and will be using my dyed fabric to make zip pouches.
You will need:
– avocado seeds, carving scraps from last tutorial (I used about 2 cups)
– 4 cups of filtered water
– 100% natural fabric or yarn (synthetic fabrics will not hold the dye without a mordant) I used a half yard of 100% cotton fabric. As with any newly purchased fabric, you should give it a run through the wash.
– fine mesh sieve
– a bowl or container large enough to hold dye and fabric. Stainless steel is great for this, plastic will stain.
To make your dye:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add avocado seeds and scraps. Cover lightly.
Boil for at least 30 minutes. *note… the seeds have an astringent, cedar wood smell. You may want to crack a window or use the oven fan.
I let my seeds sit in the water overnight in attempt to pull out as much color as possible. You can skip this step if you’re feeling impatient.
When you are ready to dye:
Put your fabric into a pot and cover completely with tap water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. This should strip away anything clinging to the natural fibers… (like soap residue or oils) and make it more susceptible to absorbing and holding dye.
Remove fabric from water and set aside
Pour your dye through a fine mesh sieve to remove all seeds and bits. Submerge fabric into dye and let sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer it steeps, the deeper the resulting color.
For a color gradient effect, try submerging your fabric for 10 minutes, pulling it out of the dye bath a few inches every hour for a few hours. I fully submerged a few pieces of fabric and tried a gradient effect with the others.
Taking note that your fabric will fade when it dries, remove fabric from dye bath when you have reached a desired depth of color. Allow your fabric to air dry.
After your fabric has completely dried, rinse it in cold water. Let dry again, and your fabric is ready to use!
Here’s a little color chart to show the results I got from rinsing in cold water once, and placing the other in a full laundry cycle.
When I removed my gradient dyed fabric from the dye bath, I was really happy with the result. There was a bit of sediment in my dye which clung to the fabric creating a marbled effect that I loved. I decided to frame that one without giving it a rinse.
You can save your dye liquid in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to one week.
Christie Sommers is the designer and maker behind West Oak Design. She handcrafts small batch and one of a kind goods for home, women, and kids in her Wyndmoor, Pa studio.www.westoakdesign.com