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Cutch ~ Getting Started

Natural Dyeing with Cutch

Earthen, tawny umbers are the stuff Cutch is made of. If you're looking for hues that are made to represent the mystical world underfoot, Cutch will likely fit the scene perfectly.


Cutch is derived from the heartwood of the Acacia catechu tree. It's rich in tannins and catechu, which allows it to bond permanently with the addition of a mordant. And its syrupy, almost coffee-esque aroma is the definition of earthy goodness.

It is actually not the tree itself that is used for dyeing, but instead, an extract derived from soaking parts of the tree in hot water till a thick substance forms. It is then dried and pulverized to a powder consistency.


Cutch, in this case, is used as a textile dye, but has a long history of use in preserving fibers and tanning animal hides. It's also commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, and in foods and drinks. 

Cutch is a substantive dye, and although it is rich in tannin, using a mordant will dramatically increase its wash, rinse and light-fastness.


I recommend diluting the Cutch dye powder in a small quantity of water (warm or hot is fine) before adding it to the dye bath. It will be much easier to thoroughly and efficiently mix in this way.


Cutch enjoys a pre-mordant for long-lasting results (wash fastness and light fastness). Alum or Alum in combination with a Tannin work well for this purpose.

In addition, the use of Iron, before dyeing or afterward, shifts Cutch to a dark, rich brown color.


A little Cutch will go a long way. 20 grams will dye a varied quantity of items, dependent on the weight of those items and what shade of color you are looking for (dark, medium, lighter tones).

To achieve a rich, dark color, use approx. 1:2 to 1:1 (weight of Cutch : weight of Dry Fabric). For lighter shades, use less dye.


Want to see what kind of results Cutch give on different fibers (wool, silk, cotton, bamboo, etc.) and with different mordants? Check out the results here.


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For more information on Natural Dyes and each step of the Natural Dye process, check out "Intro to Natural Dye," ANINI Designs' 48-page eBook.

I cover everything I teach in my 4-hour in-person Intro to Natural Dye Workshops, in addition to offering eco-friendly adaptions to the process.


Subscribe today for more posts on fiber arts, weaving, natural dye and the intersection of each of these with the #mindfulmaking and #slowcraft movements. Cheers! - Jeanine


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