I am certainly no expert, but I can turn a piece of white fabric to pale pink and it feels like I am making magic. So I'll tell you how to do it too! Thank you to my natural dye teacher and former Have Company artist in residence, Rachel de Cuba for teaching me this very simple, all things from nature, no mordant, way to dye natural fibers. You can listen to our podcast episode with Rachel here.
Here is the simple recipe I used to turn my natural cotton Wiksten Dress into a pale pink dress using only avocado pits & water :
+ Collect pits! I had about 12 in this batch of dye - great excuse to make guacamole for all your friends, or just throw em in a paper bag and save em as you go!
+ Put your pits in a big soup pot filled with water and bring it to an almost boil, I like to pretend I am making avocado tea, it will slowly start to turn pink. I let it sit on the burner for maybe 30 min or so at this almost boiling temperature and let it simmer, watching the pinkness grow
+ In the meantime take your natural fabric (cotton, linen, etc) and soak it in luke warm water
+ Once the pink has magically appeared in my water I scoop out all my avocado pits and the lil flakes. It's ok if there are some still in there. I believe you can also throw skins in too! I've never done that but I bet you'd get another variety of shades of pinks and browns.
+ Now slowly dip your fabric in! It would be best to put fabric in and THEN turn it into a dress. Alas I made a dress and then decided I didn't like the color on me, it works either way. But to avoid unwanted shrinkage or change in form it's best to do it pre-sewing. Alas, dip it in slowly and try to avoid BUBBLES, that way it will dye your fabric/garment evenly.
+ Now let it sit! I like to sort of stir mine a little, making sure it's evenly submerged. But really you want to just let it sit and get nice and pink! It will be a little lighter than what you see since we aren't using a mordant : a mordant is basically something you put it in that helps the dye really stick and not come out during washing. I have dyed with walnuts and avocados and never used a mordant and had it stay through multiple washes, this isn't the same for every thing you might dye with. Again, I am no expert. I just know how to make an avocado turn a thing pink ;)
+ After about a half hour or longer I usually call it good. I slowly take out my fabric, or in this case my dress, and rinse it in cold water, I then throw it right in the wash! Dry it, and VOILA! A light pink dress
This is a fun project to do to start a journey learning about natural dyes and how to change your fibers. The book Wild Color is an excellent resource, and some of my favorite natural dyers are Salt and Still, Adventure Textiles, A Verb for Keeping Warm, and Sugar House Workshop (just to name a few)
Have fun! And remember there is no messing up.
We are currently hosting a sew along with the Wiksten Dress, you can find it here