Dyeing with Mango Leaves

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Dyeing with Mango Leaves
This is the latest update on my natural dye journey and how it can be used to upcycle our clothes. So far, I have tried eco-prints but haven't ventured into immersive dyeing.

Mangoes are one of my favourite fruits, and they are sometimes known as the king of fruits, the other one being durian (although some people dispute this and say durian is the only king!). The sweetest mangoes are grown in India and Pakistan, and the best ones that make a mean mango pudding are those that are over ripe. Unfortunately, the mangoes (mangifera indica) that grow along the roadside in Singapore are very sour, but my friend says they are very good for making pickled mangoes. I haven't tried making pickled mangoes, but I was very curious about the colour mango leaves produce.

Dyeing with Mango Leaves


I did not know what to expect with the green mango leaves that I had collected from my local park, but the mangiferin in the leaves is known to produce a range of yellow to brown colours depending on the type of textile and type of metallic mordants used. Even my cat, Ajay, was beginning to get curious with all the leaves on my workspace - he's so used to having the sewing machine.

Dyeing with Mango Leaves


The leaves collected from the mango tree were already on the ground and had an intense green colour; I did not collect the dry or brown coloured leaves. These leaves were washed in cold water to remove dirt and any insects before cutting them into small pieces and placed in a pot.

Dyeing with Mango Leaves

Harvested: 146grams
Amount of water: 1.5 liters
Simmering time: 2 hours

I left the pot overnight before trying out a few dyeing techniques - immersive and shibori - with old cotton bedsheets (treated with soy milk) and an old silk handkerchief.

Silk versus Cotton

I found that the silk took up the colour very readily. The cotton, on the other hand, was rather difficult and the colours were not even. I tried some shibori with clothes pegs as well and was happy to see the patterns that it created.  I basically had a long rectangular strip of the bedsheet which I folded in half length wise, before carefully folding it into a triangle.  The clothes pegs created little white patches on the fabric.

After the initial round of dyeing, I decided to add less than 10ml of iron rust to the dye pot and further simmered another piece of cotton. The rust had caused the wheat-coloured dye to become a dark brown. I initially thought it was black, but after the fabric was dried, the colour became a dark brown.

Dyeing with Mango Leaves
Dyeing with Mango Leaves

Dyeing with Mango Leaves - Shibori
Dyeing with Mango Leaves
From left to right: mango leaves on cotton, silk handkerchief, mango leaves plus iron on cotton

Dyeing with Mango Leaves
Outcome of the shibori

Working on My Next Project

The lessons I learned in the project is that
a) green leaves don't produce green
b) natural colours take time to be extracted from the leaves and adhere to the textiles
c) immersive dyeing brings out different colours compared with eco prints. You might remember the eco print that I did just a few weeks ago.

Eco printing with leaves
Eco printed leaves - note the mango leaf at the top right hand corner

Why am I excited? Well, I am looking forward to applying these colours to my next project, an installation involving stitching and getting the public closer to nature. Stay tuned for my next blog post with eucalyptus!  Do take a look at my dye experiments with the eucalyptus bark.

Natural Dyeing with Eucalyptus Bark

This post is part of the Shibori Indigo Dye Week organised by Stephanie of Swoodson Says. Check out the other posts this week.

Monday 7/24 Sarah at Sewing with Sarah - Shibori Top  Stephanie at Swoodson Says - Shibori Kit Review
Tuesday 7/25 Katie at Creative Counselor - Shibori Shift Dress Sara at Radiant Home Studio - Shibori Zipper Pouch
Wednesday 7/26 Vicky at Vicky Myers Creations - Shibori Scarf Stephanie at Swoodson Says - Shibori Blanket
Thursday 7/27 Maryanna at Marvelous Auntie M - Shibori Bag Ula at Lulu & Celester - Shibori Clutch
Friday 7/28 Laurel at My Heart Will Sew On - Shibori Maxi Skirt Agy at Agy Textile Artist - Shibori with Mango Leaves Stephanie at Swoodson Says - Shibori Curtains
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1 comment

  1. This is so neat, I never thought about leaves leaving different colors, thanks for joining in :D