How to Naturally Dye a Duvet Cover

So as much as I have loved my white duvet cover I wanted a fun change. Thanks to a friend, I was introduced to the idea of natural dyeing. I began researching and was amazed at how relatively easy and straight forward the process seemed. You can make practically any color using common every day household food items. This is a great way to color fabrics without the use of harmful dyes and chemicals. Below I've listed some basic colors you can achieve with common foods or food scraps.

Pink: red cabbage
Beets: pink
Peach: avocado pits and skins
Orange: yellow onion skins
Yellow: ground turmeric
Green: spinach
Blue: black beans

color wheel chart for natural dye
Original Source

Without much hesitation I decided to go for it! My goal was to achieve a rust/ cinnamon color. To do so I figured I'd try mixing yellow onion skins and avocado pits. In total I used 9 avocado pits, 4 skins and yellow onion skins from a 1 lb bag of onions. Here are the supplies you will need to complete this project.

avocado and onion skins

A large stock pot - I used a 5 gallon pot 
Your choice of food scraps 
A mordant - if applicable 
You're probably wondering what the heck is a mordant? A mordant allows your dye to properly stick to your fabric. Some dyes require mordants while others do not so be sure to look into this when choosing your dye. Avocados and yellow onions do not require the use of a mordant so this was not applicable for my specific project.

So to begin cut each avocado and place the pits and skins aside. I washed each avocado pit thoroughly. This is imperative as you don't want to allow any of the green flesh to remain and potentially stain your fabric. If you choose to use the skins, I recommend using a dish brush to thoroughly scrub and clean these as well. Set these aside with the pits and peel the yellow onions. Make sure to take only the outer flaky layer of the onion.

how to clean avocado skins

cleaned avocado pits

peeled yellow onions

Once prepped, place the scraps into your stock pot filling it with water 2/3rds of the way. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer for one hour. While your dye is simmering, prep your fabric by wetting it with warm water. Since my duvet cover was rather large I choose to run it through a quick cycle in the washer.

natural dye

After one hour shut off the heat, strain out your scraps and discard them. You want your dye to be as clean as possible. Place your warm and damp fabric into your stock pot making sure to fully submerge the fabric. In all honesty I should have used an even large pot but did not have one on hand. Therefore, in order to ensure all fabric was submerged I had to use a 15lb kettle bell wrapped in a clean trash bag and set on top of an upside down dinner plate.

naturally dyed duvet

natural dye

Now this is the fun part, the longer the fabric sits the darker it gets. Monitor is closely until you've achieved your desired color. I let my duvet sit for 30 hours. Some articles recommend letting it sit up to 48 hours. This is something you will need to decide. Once you've achieved your desired color remove the fabric from your pot. I did this in my bathtub as it was the only space large enough. If you are doing a smaller piece of fabric a kitchen sink would be just fine. Rinse your fabric thoroughly under cool water. This will not remove or fade color from your fabric, it is simply to remove any access dye that was not absorbed into the fabric.

DIY dyed duvet cover

how to clean fabric after naturally dyeing

Once your fabric has been rinsed, its time to dry. Due to the size of my duvet cover I choose to tumble dry however many of the articles I read recommended hang drying the item. Personally, I didn't notice any adverse effects to the tumble drying. Once fully dry it's time to show off your beautiful new piece!

white duvet cover

naturally dyed duvet

I hope you guys found this helpful and enjoyed this little walk through. Please note that the color you get can be effected by many things including the pH of the water, type of fabric, type of water (ie: salt water or tap water), etc. So try to be flexible and have fun with it! Xoxo


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