DIY fabric dye
Natural homemade dye technique
to get gorgeous sunset blush pink with avocados
My newly discovered passion for fabric dye – it all started during a search for linen fabric. I’d planned to make long feminine summer maxi dress – a definition of romance, but I couldn’t decide which type of fabric to use. As you well know by now, apart from my Pinterest Marketing business I am a textile lover and self-taught seamstress who also designs fabric patterns. Sewing clothes at home is something I watched my aunt and granny do growing up, and I imagined that ‘when I’m big’ I will do the same: run my own artistic home and sit by the sewing machine in the evenings, watching movies (or travel and cooking channels!) and stitch away my unique garments. And it really happened, while I was on maternity leave!
Evenings in and favourite fabrics
No, I don’t turn my sewing machine on in the evenings because it literally sounds like there’s an earthquake coming. But I do sit down in the evenings, sip glass of red and prepare patterns, embroider or stitch ahead by hand. Evenings are the most calming time of the day, unless I get up between 4 and 5am, which I sometimes do. It’s a silent time to think and concentrate, my most productive time. But sometimes I don’t produce anything, just sit by the window and look at the sky. And I often wonder how is it that the light of the sky is able to produce the most beautiful shades of pink!
Have you ever noticed the variety of shades?
It’s like a mood board colour scheme, watching the sky change early in the morning or during the sunset. It takes a moment and the light changes the colours completely. I love this pink. It’s warm and soft, with hint of old times. And I was searching for such pink for my new dress.
I found beautiful shades of pink in double gauze cotton, this fabric is one of my favourites! Not only because I love that it’s natural, but it’s so nice to sew from because it doesn’t have a stretch. What it does have is a lovely texture and variety of subtle to vibrant colours. I’ve ordered pink in the past and it was beautiful, but I was looking for more specific shade this time. Suddenly, I thought to myself why don’t I purchase white and see if I can stamp it, or colour it completely? So I did! I ordered several metres of ecru ivory double gauze cotton, some I will use as it is and some I will dye. In the mean time, there was a leftover of ivory linen from my last project 🙂
Natural fabric dye – avocado pit!
Off white linen fabric was another great choice because just like cotton, linen is a natural plant-based fibre. These types of fabric are usually the best for natural dyeing because they absorb the colour well. Synthetic fibres are not a good choice for dyeing, at least not for natural one because the fibre is too resistant. There are more types of fabric such as wool and silk, which are animal-based and from what I have read so far should also respond well to natural fabric dye.
Inspired by the beautiful book Botanical Colour at Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos, and by the Grainline Studio avocado dyeing project, I decided to try create the perfect soft sunset blush pink that I was initially looking for for my summer dress.
Natural fabric dye technique is incredibly easy and you can try not only different amount of avocados and lengths of simmering time, but also completely different natural ingredients from spices (turmeric) to herbs (lavender, rosemary) to achieve a variety of shades!
Let’s begin with natural off white linen fabric and avocado pits – for the perfect soft blush pink shade!
For the natural fabric dye DIY project you’ll need:
- white/ivory linen piece of fabric (You can use either a piece of fabric, handmade piece of clothing or a piece that you’ve previously washed and worn. Just be mindful, that once the linen is simmering in very hot water it will shrink a bit. For this project I made a new square neckline linen top. I considered the shrinkage, making the pattern slightly bigger to make sure it still fits after the fabric dye project.)
- two avocados, ideally with more brown than green skin (you will need both pits and a piece of the brown-purpleish peel)
- large cooking pot filled with water, old wooden spoon (some guides say that water acidity matters, you may want to use destilled or filtered water. For me the tap water worked just fine)
Lastly, ingredients for my favourite avocado recipes shared at the end of this article – the flesh must not be wasted! 🙂 (thank you for the tip, Grainline Studio!)
- Soak the linen fabric (or cotton, or any piece you chose to use for the fabric dye project) in water over night. This way the water will get thoroughly into the fabric and encourage more even colour absorption once you simmer the fabric.
- Cut the avocados in half, taking out both pits and removing all flesh. Peel one of the halfs and wash the skin.
- Put the skin into a pot filled with clean water, add both avocado pits cut in half.
- Place on the cooker and bring to boil, simmering for about an hour. The brownighs pink colour will begin to form in the water as you simmer.
- Add your fabric to the pot, push it all under the water and continue to simmer for another two to three hours. The colour intensity will depend on how long you simmer the fabric. Turn the fabric around from time to time to make sure that all parts are evenly soaked in the pink water and that no part is sticking above the water. This is important for encouraging the fabric dye to spread as evenly as possible. Wet fabric is always slightly darker than it will be once it is dry.
- When you’re satisfied with the colour shade, remove the pot from the heat, place it into the bath. Let it set for a moment, until the water has coolled down to a reasonable temperature.
- Rinse the fabric under running cold water and squeeze out any excess fabric dye.
- Dry the fabric on air and you are done!
I just love the final result! Soft summer evening blish pink sky, on a linen tank top!
The linen felt slightly harder after the fabric dye bath so to soften it I soaked it again, this time in water with baking soda. Normally, I don’t use chemically treated linen and just give the fabric time to soften with regular use and washes. But I also discovered a natural way how to speed up this process, without suppressing the quality of the fibre.
Onto the Avocado recipes!
Avocado and Egg breakfast & Avocado Salad with Sunflower Seeds
Easy, healthy, delicious! Two of my most favourite recipes, one for the morning and one as a light lunch or dinner!
Avocado and Egg breakfast
- wholegrain toast bread
- two eggs
- one avocado flesh
- olive oil
- greens for decoration
Boil two eggs in salty water for 5 minutes (salt helps the egg stay inside if the shell cracks whilst boiling) and peel she shell off. Cut both eggs and the avocado flesh on thick slices and place on top of toasted brown bread. Sprinkle with washed greens, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
And that’s it! Simple, tasty and nutritious breakfast to get you going for the day!
Avocado Salad with Sunflower Seeds
- 50g of feta cheese
- five cherry tomatoes
- one avocado flesh
- one large carrot
- two handfuls of rocket salad leaves and baby spinach
- two table spoons of sunflower seeds
- high quality extra virgin olive oil (I brought mine from holiday in Crete and it’s be best I’ve tasted EVER!)
- balsamic vinegar
Wash the greens thoroughly and place in medium size salad bowl. Cut the avocado to large pieces and the cherry tomatoes in half, add to the greens. Grate the carrot roughly and add to the mixture as well, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and feta cheese broken to pieces by hand. Lastly, drizzle generously with olive oil, add one tea spoon of balsamic vinegar and two pinches of salt.
What I LOVE about this recipe is that it is so versatile! It can be served with meat, as vegetarian or even vegan option! I use this recipe as a foundation for my lunches, adding other foods to make it filling.
You can try alternatives and replace the feta cheese with: fried diced chicken, grilled salmon, tinned salmon, grilled zucchini, boiled eggs and also couscous! Sunflower seeds can be alternated with sliced peeled almonds and ready salad served with your favourite fresh bakery!