Updated: Sep 6
Katherine from SheerStichery.com has created a wonderful sew along video for the Coquelicot skirt pattern, where she makes a mash-up of the view B lace up waistband, with view A half circle skirt. She chose to dye laces and the binding in a natural dye made from avocado pis and shells! How amazing is that! and the result is beautiful! Read below to find out how you can dye fabric with avocados and to watch the sew along!
Dying Fabric Pink with Natural Dyes
When I was planning my Coquelicot Skirt, I wanted to really highlight the unique interior elements in this vintage inspired pattern, so I knew that a contrasting fabric was in the cards. When I came across this floral linen blend, I knew that it was the perfect match for this skirt. When it came down to finding a complimentary linen for those interior details, I could not find quite what I was looking for. So, I decided to dye my own natural linen to the shade I wanted.
One thing to note with naturally dyed fabrics is that the colour produced can vary from batch to batch, and from fibre to fibre. That being said, I have dyed linen to a nice raspberry pink in the past and knew that was the overall colour family I was looking for.
1. Choosing Your Fabric
Before you begin the dying process, you want to select the right fabrics. Natural fibres take to the dye better than synthetics, making linen a perfect choice. If you have fibres that are mixed, the fibres that are synthetic will not take to the dye as readily as the natural fibres.
2. Prepping Your Fabric to Dye
Once you have selected the fabric you want to dye, wash, and dry the fabric to remove any coatings the manufacturer places on the fabric during production.
Next, you the option of adding a mordant to the fabric prior to dying. Essentially a mordant is dye fixative and is usually aluminum acetate or iron sulphate. Now, this creates colour fast properties, but is also a bit harsh on the fibres. Personally, I skip this step, but if you want the colour to be fade resistant you should be sure to do this.
A natural dye binder is what I use in lieu of mordant. It actually causes the cellulose fibres in natural fabrics to behave similar to protein fibres resulting in better dye uptake. The most readily available and cost-effective option for this is soy milk.
Depending on how much fabric you are dying prepare a basin. For the 3 meters of fabric I dyed, I used a medium sized Rubbermaid tote. Fill this up with water (enough to fully cover your fabric).
Mix in the soymilk powder (much more cost effective than buying jugs and jugs of soy milk), mixing in a 1:4 ration of soymilk to water. To create the soymilk from the powder you mix 1:3 soymilk powder to water. For example, if you filled your tote with 10L of water you will add about 3.5 cups soymilk powder to the overall mixture.
Saturate your fabric in the soy milk and water mixture. Let sit in the milk mixture for at least 30 minutes to soak into the fibers. Ensure the mixture stays cool so it does not curdle. (For this batch of linen, I left my fabric overnight in the mixture in our cold room.)
Ring out the fabric, do not rinse. Hang to dry or place in your dryer until the fabric is completely dry.
Let the dry fabric sit at least a week before moving on to dying it.
3. Natural Millennial Pink Dye
Avocados are great at achieving a nice pink colour. You can use the pits and skins (none of the green flesh of the avocados, though) or a mixture of both. In my instance I used both the pits and skins of about eight avocados.
TOP TIP: You can store the avocado pits and skins (wash to remove all the avocado flesh) in a freezer bag in your freezer until you have enough.
4. Prepare the Dye Pot
In a metal dye pot on top of your range, bring enough water to fully cover your fabric to a simmer.
Add in the avocado pits and skins. Steep this mixture on a gentle heat, if you let it boil the dye will have a brown hue rather than pink, which if you are going for a warm brown then let it boil, but in this instance, we are going for a pink.
Check the dye and adjust the steeping according to the colour you are going for. Steep longer for a darker raspberry pink and shorter for a lighter blush pink. You can also adjust the pH of the dye to achieve a richer pink by making it more alkaline by adding some baking soda. In this batch I added 1 tbsp. baking soda and used tap water.
Remove from heat and add your fabric and let sit until the desired colour is achieved. I left my linen in the dye bath for 2 hours.
5. Rinse the Dye
After the fabric is done processing, using gloves to avoid dying your skin, ring out the fabric and rinse in your sink (or bathtub, if you have a larger yardage you are dying). Next, pop it into the washer on a rinse and spin cycle.
Let it dry on the line (or in your dryer in winter). The clothesline is preferred, as the UV from the sun helps to set the colours in the fibers.
6. Enjoy Your Pink Fabric
Now you can go ahead and cut out your next sewing make from the fabric you just dyed and enjoy the natural and unique colour you created.
There are many other natural dyes to explore, and hope you have fun exploring them.
Katherine Harris, Sheer Stitchery