How to Make Fabric Dye With Acorns

by Fiberartsy
10 Materials
12 Hours

A tutorial

In the past year or so, I shared my natural dyeing experiments with black walnuts, dandelions and black beans. You can dye cotton fabric as well as wool yarn with these materials as long as you use the appropriate mordant to help the dye 'stick'.

Continuing this series, I wanted to show you how to dye cotton fabric towels using acorns.

See the full step by step tutorial at (link below)

Acorns for Dyeing

My favorite material to dye (other than yarn) is cotton flour sack towels. These are seriously the absolute best kitchen towels I’ve ever used. They are super absorbent and they take the natural dye beautifully.

Since I don’t want to just dye brown kitchen towels (boring), I decided to dye these towels with two different shibori fabric dyeing techniques: Itajime and Suji or Triangle and Accordion Folding.

I also decided to use an iron modifier to see if there would be a shift in the final dye color. This part is totally optional. If you don’t have any iron liquid made, just skip that part. (To learn more about making an iron modifier, see my post at


Flour Sack Towels

Acorns (4 or 5 cups at least)


Old Strainer

Heavy String

Cook Pot dedicated to dyeing**

Alum Mordant

Iron Modifier (optional)

Old Tongs

Plastic Table Cover

** Do not use your regular pots and pans for dyeing projects. They may no longer be safe for food preparation. If you do a lot of yarn or fabric dyeing, head to your local thrift shop and pick up some cheap pots and pans.

The first thing you have to do is mordant your towels. (See for details on how to mordant cotton)


Smash your acorns lightly with a hammer. Place them in a pot with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least an hour or two.


Once your towels are mordanted, fold them by any shibori or tie dye method you choose. Mine are accordion and triangle folded. (See the folding instructions at the link below)

Strain the dye stock and return the dye to the pot. Place your towels in the dye bath. I also added a skein of yarn.

Simmer and let cool completely. Wash your towels separately to remove excess dye. Hang to dry

I decided to make pillow covers out of my dyed towels. Check the blog for instructions on natural dyeing with black walnuts, dandelions and also eco printing.




Full step by step instructions can be seen at (link below)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  • Jojo Jojo on Mar 03, 2019

    This is a project right up my alley! Who knew....anyways, the acorns I have but also, have you ever tried the hickory nuts? The squirrels are quick to crack them open but would the outer shell work maybe? Finally they'll become useful instead of another chore every other year ;-) Thanks for sharing!!

  • Elane Wells Elane Wells on Mar 09, 2019

    Would this dye work on leather? I have a dark brown sofa that is showing wear.

  • Susan Lundquist Susan Lundquist on Mar 09, 2019

    How does the dye hold up in the laundry? I am worried it would bleed into other items in the washing machine. I wash my kitchen towels with my bathroom towels in hot water.

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