Nov 24, 2014

Dyeing Chicken Feathers with Food Colouring

Feathers dyed by microwaving with food colouring
At the start of the year my sister-in-law showed me socks knitted from wool dyed with food colouring. They were BRIGHT. I was sceptical. Food colouring is water soluble. Right?

Not so much when you microwave the heck out if it. I found an excellent tutorial on How To Dye Yarn with Food Colouring, over at Instructables

Knitting is not my thing, but when my chickens started moulting I wondered if the Food Colour Dyeing trick would work on feathers, why because then I could trim me some hats 'o plenty 19th century style for very little $$$

Long story short, yes, you can dye feathers with food colouring.

I followed the wool dyeing tutorial above with only two variations. Firstly I didn't really measure how much colouring I put it. Secondly after microwaving it the stated amount of time, I totally forgot about it and left it in the microwave over night. Did that extra time help the process? I can't say.
The main difference when doing the chicken feathers was the water didn't turn clear like it's meant to with the wool method.

But as you can see the colour took to the feathers quite well. Of course adding blue colouring to brown feathers has resulted in a greeny-blue, which I probably should have expected. I imagine if you use pure white chicken feathers the colours will be very true and BRIGHT.

Blue Food colouring dyed feathers on left, before dyeing natural brown on right
A word of warning, a little colour will come out of the feathers if you get them wet again, so I would be careful not to place them on white fabric.


  1. If you used acid along with the dye it should be water fast, chicken feathers are a protein fibre so the same rules would apply as with wool and silk. Basically heat, dye and acid are the requirements for a permanent colour.

  2. This is really cool! When I was a kid I had a book of crafts which included dying flowers - I always wanted to try it, but my mum was less keen on my trying that particular project. I can't imagine why? ;)