Natural dyes

Dyeing with Chlorophyllin

My original idea was to add these results to my previous post for my hunt for green, and keep it short and sweet. However, after the attention and excitement my instagram post gained I wanted to share a more in depth post about my chlorophyllin dye bath.

See below all the fabric samples I tested, plus the over dye tests. I chose to over dye with coffee as I thought it might sadden the colour (similarly to iron modifiers), and I hoped the daffodil would give the green a more yellowy hue. This did work in some cases and is most noticeable in the wools. The unexpected result was how the previous dye seemed to work as a barrier, stopping more of the chlorophyll colour absorbing and saturating the fabric. This produced some lovely sage tones on more of the cellulose fibres.

All fabrics were mordanted with alum before dyeing, as per recommended by Wild Colours - the website which I bought my powder from. The site also suggests that the fabric should be re-mordanted and dyed again to get deeper shades of green. So I put this to the test and… it’s true! There was no noticeable change in any of the fabrics when repeating the dye bath (although I was using the previous dye bath - but there was plenty of colour left so I still believe the test).

Also, I modified all the samples above in alkaline and acidic solutions with very little change across the board. This surprised me most with the daffodil + chlorophyllin samples as the daffodil dye on cellullose fibres became a much brighter yellow. Modifying before over dyeing may be the answer.

Surprise Result

During my masters I exclusively mordanted with alum before dyeing. Although the substance isn’t as harmful as other chemicals, it is also not 100% safe to put back into our water systems. Most dyers try and reuse their mordant solutions and just keep adding to them, thus never having to throw them away (although this doesn’t account for the rinse off from the fabrics).

I have a very small space in my house where I do all my work, and it is hard for me to save my mordants, hence why I decided to make bespoke items and to reduce waste that way. I have already begun cutting out mordanting when dyeing with avocado and onion skins as they are high in tannins which helps the colour fix (other mordants just help this last).

In light of this, I decided to test some of my bamboo silk that had already been dyed with avocado and the result is beautiful!

Left: Avocado + chlorophyllin. Right: Alum + chlorophyllin

Left: Avocado + chlorophyllin. Right: Alum + chlorophyllin

This bodes well for my silk scarf making plans, allowing customers to choose between natural salt mordants or a dye tannin base. I have yet to try an onion dye base… I will keep you posted.

Now to find out how it all happened…

My Recipe

Weight of fabric: 54g

Weight of dye: 2g (this amount is recommended for 100g of wool but I kept it at this weight as I knew I’d end up adding more fabric to the bath later)


  • Make a paste with the chlorophyllin powder and a splash of warm water

  • Fill your dye pot with enough water for your fabric and add the chlorophyllin paste

  • Add pre-soaked fabric and simmer for 45 minutes (45 - 60 recommended), and stir occasionally

  • Left to cool in dye bath for 3 hours (overnight recommended)

  • Wash fabric until colour runs clear

I decided to not cool the bath overnight as I find you are more likely to get patchy results when left un-stirred. Plus I was too excited to wait!