Thursday, February 9, 2023

Second Thursday Tutorial: Dyeing Fabric Using Orange Peels


As you can tell from the title, today I will be dyeing fabric using orange peels.

  Some of you have seen this bowl of mandarin oranges before.

  You may also recall I purchased the oranges for the peels because their outer skins are much thinner than regular oranges.

I added water to the peels and cooked them in the microwave oven for 30 minutes on 30% power.  I know ALL reputable web sites will tell you to cook them on the stove in a steel pot for an hour, but those sites also have a bigger budget than I have.  I am trying to conserve electricity, the cost of which is through the roof right now.  By using the microwave, I am hoping to 1) save on electricity and 2) achieve basically the same results.

  As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't sure I had the right color, but I decided it was probably not going to get much darker.  Using a strainer dedicated to crafts, I removed the peels.  I wondered if I should have cut or torn them a bit more before I cooked them. 

  At least they were easy to remove from the bath.
  I had to wait overnight until the liquid cooled sufficiently before I continued.  BTW, the spent peels went in my compost pile.
I took my orange peel juice to the basement and tore several pieces of old white bed sheet.  I left the fabric in my dye bath overnight.

I then microwaved the fabric and dye bath for two minutes at 100% power.

 I had to clean my lens so you could see the fabric.

Two more minutes at 100% power.

Then I flipped the fabric over in the dye bath

and cooked it in the microwave for another two minutes.

Then it was time to remove the fabric from the dye bath and allow it to dry.  The color is MUCH brighter in the photo than it really is.

After two days in my cold kitchen, the fabric was still quite wet.  I knew I had to iron it anyway, so I decided to kill two birds at once.

Fabric 1 is ready to iron.  The color isn't as vibrant as the photo suggests, but I love the mottled look I was going for.

Fabric 1 ironed.

Fabric 2 wet.

Fabric 2 ironed.

Sometimes the back side is even better looking than the front (of course, there is no real front or back, just one side or the other).

Fabric 3 wet.

Fabric 3 ironed.


1. Orange peels should have been cut or torn into smaller sizes, which would have given a darker dye bath.

2. I wish I'd had more time before I had to publish.  I would have scanned a couple of the fabrics so you could see the true colors I got.  They are not as bright as my photos show.  However, they are mottled, which I love.

Thanks ever so much for joining me today.  As soon as this tutorial goes live, I will share it on my tutorials page.


14 thoughtful remarks:

Mia said...

This is really a great tutorial, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing the steps with us. I had seen it until you removed the peels, but now the microwave process seems very interesting. I would not have thought to put it in the microwave, I think I would have left the fabrics in the bowl overnight. But putting the bowl with the fabrics in the microwave is a clever idea. Your dyed fabrics are great. I am sure you will use them in a great way (maybe in your journals?). Hugs, my friend.

Valerie-Jael said...

Gorgeous colours, and I hope you enjoyed eating the mandarins! Have a great day, take care, hug, Valerie

Iris Flavia said...

Great tutorial (if somewhat time-consuming, and I started training again!).

Oh, but I really want to make T-Shirts like what I did in 7th grade now! Batik, we called it! Right? So 1970´s like. Come March and the work-pressure is maybe down.... or summer, when you can do that on the balcony...

Your outcome is great.
But I want a T-Shirt now ;-) And those trousers (I still have a pair! Ingo hates them - and they are like really worn...).

My name is Erika. said...

I too love the mottle effect. And it came out much more orange than I expected it would. I wonder if you dyed the fabric with the peels chopped small and left in the liquid with the fabric would make any difference. It might be a bigger mess to clean though. Happy Thursday!

kathyinozarks said...

Good morning, I just posted my project with mandarin orange peels too-you got a lovely yellow! Did you add a mordant to the fabric? I have never used the microwave for dye projects before.
I did not get a light yellow-but more of a brown yellow-I think mine will be used for paint on watercolor papers. thanks for sharing hugs

Barbara said...

For a minute I thought I was on Kathy’s blog. 😂You girls are having fun and learning from each other. Lovely yellows!

Divers and Sundry said...

Pretty! It's fun to see the colors you can get from natural dyes.

Debra said...

I love the colors you got! Very pretty!

jinxxxygirl said...

I'm glad Kathy popped in here.. I was going to let you know about her post with orange peels.. Maybe you two can brainstorm together.. Love the yellow you achieved Elizabeth! Hugs! deb

Christine said...

Lovely yellow achieved

Sandra Cox said...

I would never have thought about using orange peels for a dye and what a pretty color. Good job!

Lowcarb team member said...

I like the yellow you achieved here.

All the best Jan

DVArtist said...

Ohhh Elizabeth this is fantastic. I am so in love with the color of the fabric. Just stellar. FFO is up early. Thought you would like to know. Have a very nice evening.

pearshapedcrafting said...

That's a lovely yellow Elizabeth. A lovely finish too, Hugs, Chrisxx