Friday, October 19, 2012

Dyeing with Yellow Onions Part 1

Maura Ambrose is an inspiring quilter/dyer from Austin, TX, and recently on her blog, she posted instructions for dyeing with onion skins.  (The instructions for yellow skins found here:

Here's an example of a beautiful quilt she made with fabrics dyed with red onion skins:

Anyway, I thought I would document my process, FOR SCIENCE!

The folks at Rising Sun (the local produce stand) were nice enough to let a crazy lady like me rifle through their onions, collecting all the detached skins.  I had enough for a really dense dye-bath in one trip!

Add the water...

Boil boil... abandon, run back when you hear sizzling and smell oniony steam pervading the house...

Collect an assortment of white or whitish fabrics.

Keep a tiny sample of each for a before and after.  Hope that you will be able to tell which was which...

Pre-soak your white fabrics, strain the pot of hot, sopping onion skins through a colander into a bucket.
From left to right, the containers are: 1) pot formerly containing hot onion skin bath
2) pre-soaking fabrics
3) Strained onion water (it's so dark!!!) with some of the pre-wet fabric already added
4) Discarded onion skins

Wring out and add all of your fabric.  Here's the fabric stewing.

Within about 30 seconds the fabric was already picking up color.
White on white prints are interesting to dye, because the fabric tends to dye but the print doesn't!

To be continued...


  1. Could you make a red dye with red onions?

    1. Based on Maura Ambrose's example, it looks like red onion skins should yield pinks and browns. I want to try that next! I also read somewhere that you can get a blue color from black beans...