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Natural Dyeing with Acorns

Author: Annette Browning
by Annette Browning
Posted: Oct 10, 2020
mordant cotton

Did you know that you can make a beautiful brown natural fabric dye with plain acorns? Well, yes you can!

The step by step acorn dyeing tutorial can be found FiberArtsy

WHAT CAN BE DYED WITH ACORNS?Anything that is made of a natural material should be dyeable with a dye made from acorns. This includes plant based fabrics or yarns such as cotton, linen and bamboo as well as protein fiber or animal fiber fabrics made from sheep wool, alpaca fiber, silk and mohair. You can also dye leather and wood with an acorn dye.

The tricky part of natural dyeing is know what mordant to use for your material.

WHAT IS A MORDANT?Natural Dyes typically do not adhere to material on their own. They tend to wash out or fade rapidly. A Mordant provides a bond for the dye. It attaches itself to the material and the natural dye then attaches itself to the mordant.

There are many different mordants. Some common ones include alum, soymilk, chrome, copper, tannic acid.

SAFETY NOTE: Some mordants can be toxic so do your research and use safety precautions.

HOW CAN YOU MAKE AN ACORN DYE?To make a dye, gather up about 4 to 5 cups of fresh acorns. (Here is the Eastern United States, we harvest acorns in the Fall or Autumn months of September, October, November)

Before you can use the acorns, you need to smash them a little bit. Using a hammer, carefully pound each one. Not too much, though. Don't pulverize the acorns. You only need to split the shell. This allows more of the dye to be extracted from the inside of the shell.

Once the acorns are all split, place them into an old cook pot. Fill the pot with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer this for one to two hours.

SAFETY NOTE: Cookware that is used for dyeing is no longer safe for food prep! The only exception to this rule is if you are dyeing with food grade dyes such as food coloring or Kool Aid drink powders.

HOW TO MORDANT COTTON FABRIC WITH ALUMIf you are dyeing a cotton fabric, you will first need to mordant that fabric. Alum is a good, basic mordant for cotton.

To mordant cotton, dissolve the alum powder in warm water. Add this to an old cook pot and fill with three or four inches of water. Then, add the fabric. Bring this to a boil and gently simmer for about 45 minutes. Allow the pot to cool. At this point, you can dry the fabric for later dyeing or you can go ahead and dye your fabric immediately.


To dye your fabric a solid brown color, add the fabric to the dye bath. Heat to medium and then gently simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You can also tie dye or shibori dye your fabric. Fold it by whatever tie dye method of your choice and secure it with heavy string. Place your bundle in the dye bath and simmer for 45 minutes.

WASHING THE DYED FABRICTo wash your dyes, first, rinse out as much of the dye as possible. Then, wash it separately in the washing machine to remove the rest of the dye. Your fabric is now ready to use.

There are many more dyeing tutorials at FiberArtsy

About the Author

Hey, I'm Annette, check out for lots more crafting tutorials

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Author: Annette Browning

Annette Browning

Member since: Jan 23, 2020
Published articles: 8

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