Dyeing with onion skins

I’ve posted this on my art blog, but not on my Simple Life. I have decided to post it on here as it is all part of my simple life aim. With my life, as with my art I like to try to have as little impact on the environment as possible, so I have been trying out a bit of Eco dyeing and combining it with my work.

Onion skins seem to be a good starting point because they need no mordent (a mordent is a fixing agent).

All it take is collecting the brown flaky skins from your onions until you’ve got about a carrier bag full and put them in the largest pan you have (or tin bucket) add a generous amount of water and heat it up.
Onion skins 2
Simmer for a couple of hours, strain, and you get this!Onion skins 3
Take it off the heat, add some wet fabric (not band new fabric, it has to be something that has been washed previously) and make sure you push it all under the dye that you’ve made using some tongs or with rubber gloves to protect against the hot water. Simmer again for another hour or so. Let it get cold on the pan or leave it over night and then take the fabric out and rinse it in warm water and dry on the washing line.
Onion skins 4

You can get quite a dark colour with this dye. The background of this cushion I’ve made shows the sort of colour you get. You can use the dye a couple of times more if you like and you just get lighter colours.
Onion skins 5

Free dye from kitchen scraps, not bad is it! πŸ™‚

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7 thoughts on “Dyeing with onion skins

  1. Hi Debbie, like most people I’ve done a bit of onion dyeing in my time! I love the idea of using natural materials for colouring fabric. However, I always thought that unless you used a mordant of some kind your colour would fade – sometimes quite rapidly – over time. Is this not true of onions?
    Love your cushion covers!

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