Don’t Diss the Onions : Onion Skins as dye

Not the most exotic sounding dye material but don’t underestimate the onions or the onion skin. For me it has been a reliable, versatile dye that I can use on both protein and plant fiber. So far  I’ve dyed wool, cotton, and soy silk.

Above, pre-alumed wool dyed with onion skins. The green is indigo over-dyed in the same batch. The plant:fiber ratio was .5:1 but I believe that I could have used considerably less dye stuff. The onion skins and fiber had been simmered for an hour and left to soak over night. The next day the dye still wasn’t exhausted so I over-dyed some previously indigo-dyed wool.

Copper and Iron after-baths darkened the color but ended up with similar shades. The Ammonia after-bath brightened a bit.

Onion skins are easy to save up and store. When I am shopping produce I sometimes tidy up around the onion bin.

4 Responses to “Don’t Diss the Onions : Onion Skins as dye”


  1. 1 Ellen B. July 2, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    The onion skins really give the yarn a rich and beautiful color! I love the rich, mustardy tones! Nice work!

  2. 2 jmjamison July 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I am always amazed at how much color I can get out of onion peels. And as dye stuff goes, they are pretty benign.

  3. 3 Dave July 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Usually I don’t read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.


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