How To Dye With Marigold Flowers

Image courtesy of Tolt Yarn & Wool

Ever wondered how to dye with marigold flowers? The humble marigold makes a beautiful and easy color that captures summer even when the weather is cold and gray. They brighten flower borders and are a companion plant in organic gardening. Marigold (Tagetes erecta) is native to Central America.

The Aztecs used it as a flavoring ingredient for cacao. In Mexico, marigolds are also referred to as “Flor de Muertos” (Flowers of the Dead) and used in the Dia de los Muertos festivals and ceremonies. The deeply scented and brightly colored flower is believed to guide the spirits toward the elaborate altars decorated with sweets, mementos and remembrances of the dead. Marigold garlands are used for weddings and other auspicious events in India.  They use fresh garlands of marigold, jasmine and other flowers are for temple offerings.

Basically, the marigold is pretty special.

Dyeing with marigolds:
Scour and mordant fibers to be dyed
-Use equal weights flowers to fabric/fiber
-Add flowers to a large dye pot and fill with warm water
-Cover with a lid, bring to a simmer, and steep for an hour
-Strain flowers and add prepared, soaked fibers to pot
-Heat on low for about an hour, gently stirring fibers often
-Turn off heat and steep fibers until desired results are achieved
-A pinch of soda ash can be added to the hot dye bath to brighten colors
-Fibers dyed with indigo can be overdyed with marigold to create beautiful shades of teal/green

Swatches in above photo courtesy of our friend Milisa Moses of Plant Work Shop:
Wool gauze mordanted with alum sulfate and cream of tartar
Top swatch dipped in iron
Cotton bandana mordanted with tannin and alum acetate
Cotton muslin overdyed with indigo, mordanted with tannin and alum – top dipped once, bottom dipped twice