Flowers such as weld, coreopsis, dahlias, sulfur cosmos, marigold, sunflower and dyer’s chamomile are all considered dye flowers. Each of these plants will create various shades but their extraction techniques are similar. These instructions are for creating immersion dye baths.
Fiber Preparation and Mordanting
Creating and Using a Dyebath
The amount of flowers needed ranges from 20-100% weight of fiber (WOF). Larger amounts of flowers will create darker and more saturated shades. If you are using fresh flowers, start with 100% WOF and you can increase the percentage of fresh flowers as desired.
- Weigh the amount of dye as a percentage of the dry weight of the item you wish to dye.
- For example: if you are dyeing something that weighs 100 grams, and you want to use 20% WOF then you will need 20 grams of dry flowers.
- Add the flowers to a dye pot and add enough water to just cover them. Start heating the flowers, bringing the temperature up to 160F. You should see the dye water start to turn a color. Hold at this temperature for 30-45 minutes. Be aware that very high heat can damage the dyestuff so don’t let it boil.
- Strain the dyestuff using a cheesecloth or strainer. Reserve both the dyestuff and the dye liquid.
- Repeat this process to get as much dye as possible out of the flowers. When the flowers stop giving off dye and changing the color of the water, extraction is complete. Combine all extraction baths. This is your dye bath.
- The extracted dye flowers may be dried and used for eco-printing or composted.
- Place a clean dye pot on the burner and add all the dye bath. If needed, add more water so fabric or yarn can move easily in the dye bath. Carefully add fabric or yarn and rotate gently. Begin heating the dye bath and gradually bring to 160F. Hold at this temperature for 30-45 minutes. You may let the fabric or yarn cool in the dye bath overnight for deeper shades.
- Remove goods from dye bath, rinse and air dry away from direct light.
- Use the leftover dye bath for additional dyeing, or create a watercolor or pigment from the dye bath.
Eco-printing or Bundle Dyeing
To use these flowers for eco printing or bundle dyeing, simply arrange them on mordanted fabric, roll or fold the fabric into a compact bundle, secure with string, and steam this bundle for up to 2 hours. The longer the dyestuff is in contact with the fabric, the deeper the color. Let cool overnight. Note that unused dried flowers will eco-print more saturated shades than flowers that have been used for immersion baths.
Using the same temperature water as your fiber, rinse the dyed goods once or twice to remove excess dye, then wash gently in a neutral liquid soap. Dry away from direct sunlight.