Crafternoonin’: Annatto Seed (Achiote) & Turmeric Natural Fabric Dyes

Our friend Ali brought over a couple white baby onesies and some fresh turmeric, wanting to try out dying cloth with natural food dyes. I was like, “Right On! chemical dyes are all toxic and gross, let’s do it, and do it now!”

This deluxe onesie is dyed with turmeric, and the collage fabric is dyed with both turmeric (yellow) and the annatto seeds (lush orange). Super cute and safe for babies to snack on if they get hungry.

We also had some annatto seeds from the  tropical achiote tree, which I had plucked off of a tree just some weeks ago on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  So we dyed some fabric with them as well.  Originally I gathered a bag full of these seeds to draw with, but I heard it works on fabric too. Since these are used often in natural food dying, you can order them easily online or get them in the international section of a supermarket.

Annatto seeds in the pod

Here’s how you do. approximately.  You scrape the annnatto seeds out of the pods. Most likely though, you’ll have the dried stuff already in powder form, so you can skip this step and the next.  Then you grind them up in a coffee grinder and mix it with water in a stainless steel, ceramic or pyrex pot.  Smells really great!  We used about 1 tbsp of powder to 3-4 cups of water. Note- as with the turmeric to follow you can add more or less to intensify or soften the color.