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how to dye fabrics with black walnuts

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

black walnut dye

i love the dye black walnuts produce, yes it's another brown but i love it. botanical dyeing is a slow process, full of excitement and failure. so much to learn and experiment with. in this post i am going to go over my experience with dyeing cotton, linen, hemp jersey knit, and some random clothing items. i won't be talking about yarn. this dye story begins in the autumn when the black walnuts fall to the ground......

dyeing with black walnuts

i gather the fallen nuts and bring them home. i simply place them in a 5-gallon bucket, cover with water and place the lid on it. i keep the buckets inside, because i live in a cold climate, sometimes i open the buckets up and stir the fermenting concoction, i find a potato masher works well for this. it starts to mold over and break down into a dark brown goo.

fermented black walnut dye

so last october i gathered enough nuts to fill two 5 gallon buckets, and the last week in february is when i decided to strain them. the first bucket i just strained, without doing anything first, these are the above pictures. this dye is fermented, strained, and heated up.

black walnut dyeing

the second five gallon bucket i dumped into the dye pot, plant material and all. heated that up on the wood stove all day, let sit overnight, then strained. lots of information will tell you to do this, however i didn't find much difference.

the fabrics are linen/cotton blend on top, thin gauze cotton in middle, and hemp jersey on the bottom. the fabric on the bottom is the one that was in the second dye bath. so as you can see not much difference. i am thinking next year i will skip the cook first step in black walnut dyeing. i have a video podcast on youtube where i share my latest experiences with botanical dyeing, sewing, and herbal medicine. here is episode #10 which covers black walnut dyeing.

thanks so much for being here, and please feel free to comment if you have any questions. it also helps me reach a wider audience if you share on social media or with a friend. have a wonderful day and happy dyeing to you. if you are interested in some of my offering come visit me over at

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