White stripe on pink fabric

The scarf made from avocados

I experimented with natural dyes a while back and I’ve finally started working on some larger projects. Scott and I chomp through quite a few avocados so it made sense to save the stones and skins to make my first large batch of dye. Between the natural dye, tasty meals and our home grown avocado plant (which is now shoulder height by the way), it’s the fruit that keeps on giving.

These avocado skins and stones/pits were washed and gently scrubbed, then left to dry on the windowsill for three to four days. It’s important to remove all the squidgy green bits or they can go mouldy — turning the skins inside out for cleaning is easier.

Dried avocado skins and pits
Dried avocado stones and skins
Fabric in pink dye
Avocado dye in a stainless steel pot

Here is my first scarf. The fabric is single jersey organic cotton from Green Fibres in a very pale cream colour. It arrived in plastic free packaging which was a bonus.

Scarf on door handle
Avocado dye scarf
Pink scarf with stripes hanging
Avocado dye scarf

In case you can’t tell by the creases, I’m terrible at ironing!

Closeup of avocado dye

White stripe on pink fabric

I’m really happy with how even the colour is and thankful the edges of jersey fabric don’t need hemming. I lose the will to live every time.

A few things I learn’t along the way:

  • Colour lightens as the fabric dyes (seems obvious in hindsight).
  • Fabric has a saturation point where it just won’t absorb any more colour no matter how long it stays in the pot.
  • Pretreating fabric with soya milk is defnitely worth it (helps bind colour).
  • Wipe your pot after straining the dye to remove any little bits stuck to the side — fishing them out afterwards in a real pain.

Most of modern life is spent trying to keep up to speed and squeeze more into the day but natural dyeing cannot be rushed. Preparing the fabric takes time. Extracting dye from plants and fruits is a gradual process. These methods are a reminder to slow down and just enjoy the process of creating.

Project notes

  • Fabric: single jersey organic cotton from Green Fibres
  • Fabric pretreated with soya milk (fresh or long life)
  • 4x avocado skins and stones (washed and dried)
  • Stainless steel pan
  • Dye soak: 8 hours
  • Soya milk soak: one soak overnight
  • Handy links: Botanical Threads and Rebecca Desnos

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