I’ve wanted to try botanical dyeing fabric for ages! The colours always look so pretty and I love that the kids get to see the process from start to finish.
We first experimented with botanical dyes at Easter when we dyed our own eggs and they turned out great, so I was really excited to give avocado dyeing a go for our Christmas wrapping fabric this year.
The fabric we chose was calico. This process worked well for our chosen fabric, but I imagine it would vary for more delicate fabrics or bleached fabrics. Also the final purpose of our fabric is gift wrapping, so we didn’t bother to seal the dye in any way as the fabric won’t ever be going through a washing machine. This process would not be sufficient if you were looking to dye clothing.
We decided to use avocado, with the hope to see beautiful, pastely pinks in the finished fabric. When choosing our avocados, we opted for really ripe, dark coloured skins, rather than the greener ones. In fact the first bunch were so ripe that by the time I got around to dyeing they’d already gone bad and we had to take another trip to the market – oops!
We used 3 avocodos, which was plenty for a few metres of fabric. We ended up doing a second batch with just 2 avocados and it turned out just as good too, although I did soak it for longer.
To start, we removed skins and seeds and had a delicious smashed avo lunch. Bellies full, we thoroughly cleaned the flesh away and then chopped the skins and seeds. I mistakenly cut the skins before washing the first time, which made the process much more time consuming. So before to clean away the flesh before you chop them up.
Next we popped the clean skins and seeds into a large saucepan along with about a litre of water. Keeping the lid on, we let it boil gently for an hour, adding more water if it boiled down to much. After an hour, I drained the liquid from avocados – this liquid is the dye.
I put the dye into the biggest pot we have, along with enough water to cover my fabric. I pre-soaked the fabric in water, then added it into the pot, bringing it to just below a boil. I kept the water at this temperature for 2-3 hours, stirring the fabric regularly to make sure the dye got into all the creases and folds. I wasn’t in a hurry so I just left it sitting in the pot of dye overnight before taking it out, rinsing it under cold water and then letting it air dry.
Once dry, we wrapped our gifts, secured it with some twine and added some dried blue gum leaves. I’m really happy with how they turned out and love that we’ll be able to use this fabric over and over again for future gifts.
Have you tried botanical dyeing? I’d love to hear your favourite colours!