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How To Naturally Dye with Marigold Flowers

October, 19th 2020 Skip to Recipe

Marigold flowers are absolutely stunning in nature. Their vibrant, orange glow look like little drops of sunshine! When dyeing with these beauties, Marigold Flowers produce a beautifully golden sunny hue on the cloth or silk you are dyeing.

I’ve been absolutely in love with natural dyeing lately. I feel like nature provides you with this amazing amount of beauty that allows you to make stunningly gorgeous fabrics. When it comes to natural dyeing with Marigold flowers, the process is incredibly easy. However, like with any new adventure, there are a few things you should know before getting started. I’ll guide you through some of the tips, tricks, and processes I’ve used to make beautiful tea towels, hair bands, bath towels, and silks. I’ll also leave some helpful resources at the bottom for you to expand your learning and add your own twists and artistic touch!

Me with a Marigold dyed tea towel

Getting Started with Natural Dyeing

I believe there are two different kinds of dyer’s out there. There are the ones who want to measure everything out and make a repeatable process, and the ones who want to just go for it. If you are the one who just wants to go for it, then just go for it! Dyeing is an art and if you have a vision, let that come through!

However, I do believe that following a repeatable process will make the dyeing much more enjoyable. This will allow you to experiment with different methods, saturation, designs, etc. I also recommend following the directions below to prep your fabrics for the best results possible.

When dyeing fabrics with natural elements such as flowers, and botanicals, it is recommended that you prepare your fabrics. There are two steps of preparation. The first step a a scouring bath and the next step is a mordant bath. These two baths prep the fabric to accept the dye.

What You Will Need

There are a materials you need to get started. Most importantly you will need white fabrics to dye. This can be either cotton fabric (cellulose) or silk/wool (protein). They both work great, however, you need to prepare them just slightly differently!

Next, you will need two large stainless steel pots that you can heat up on the stove. These will be used for the two baths we will talk about next along with the actual dyeing.

You will also need the appropriate scouring bath minerals for your fabric and the mordant. Both of these can be found on Dharma Trading.

Finally, and what I think most importantly, is a whole bunch of Marigold flowers! I’d say you’d need around 15-20 marigold flowers to build a really deep golden dye. Once you have these materials, it’s time to get started!

Scouring Bath

The first step of the process of dyeing with Marigold flowers is to scour your fabrics. The bath is going to depend on what kind of fabrics you are using. You have two choices of fabrics to work with. Cellulose fabrics which are cotton or a protein fabric like wool or silk. For the proper ratios, and scouring material, I’d highly recommend checking out Maggie Pate’s Natural Dyeing E-Course. She does an amazing job of going through the ratios of scouring material to fabric.

The scouring process helps to remove any waxes, chemicals, and plastics off of your fabrics. Even with brand new, white fabric, you will see a lot of waste water when you are finished. By removing these unwanted materials, the dye will bind better and will apply in a more manageable way. You will want to immerse your fabrics in scouring bath for an hour to properly prepare them.

Mordant Bath

Next up is the mordant bath. The mordant bath is used to prepare the fabric to chemically bind with the natural dyes. Both types of fabric, protein and cellulose, have special mordant baths. These mordant baths usually contain aluminum or other metallic substance that allows for the natural dye to bind better with the fabric.

When preparing your mordant bath, I’d recommend following Maggie Pate’s ratios and letting the fabric stay immersed in the bath for 12 – 24 hours. This extra time allows the mordant bath to bind to the cloth and form a solid base for they actual dyeing process. Next up, preparing your Marigold dye!

Tea towel with a circular design

Using Marigolds for Dyeing

Marigolds are a pretty easy flower to dye with, you just need a lot of them! Their bright orange/yellow hue binds beautifully with the fabric and creates absolutely magical fabrics!

The first step is to prepare the extract the beautiful color from the Marigolds. To do this, heat a pot with water and add your Marigold flowers. This will take about 30 minutes and you will see a beautiful golden dye emerge.

Next, wash your fabric with cold water after removing it from the Mordant bath. If you are using a cellulose fabric, feel free to rubber band and fold different designs into your fabric! When you have everything set up, place the fabric in the warm dye. I’d recommend letting it sit in there for about 45 minutes so the dye has time to bind with all of the fabric.

Close up of the tea towels drying
Tea towels on the drying rack

The result

After the 45 minutes, the result of dyeing with Marigolds yielded a gorgeous sunny hue on the fabric! We found it so easy to work with Marigolds, and we definitely want to try it again and again to find new techniques. It’s such a wonderful weekend project that yields amazing results!

Tea towels hanging to dry
Tea towels hanging to dry
Marigold flowers, tea towels and crystals.

What we learned along the way

When natural dyeing please remember to have fun with the process! We experimented with a few different folding techniques, as well as different fabrics, of all shapes and sizes. Most of them worked out but a few of them didn’t, for example, we tried to dye I towel, and learned that towels do best with a faster-reacting dye due to their weight.

The towel still turned to a beautiful golden hue, but it turned out really light and faded. We also found that the more simple folding techniques turned out the best. The fabric that we folded too much came out more white than colored. We all learn some and win some after all! We also experimented with dyeing silks and learned that it is best not to fold or tie the silks. They will produce wrinkles that are hard to get out.

Marigold flowers, tea towels, and lace
Marigold flowers and tea towels

Caring for your Fabrics

After dyeing your fabrics, let your fabrics fully dry. When they have dried wash on cold with a ph neutral laundry detergent, on a gentle cycle. This will wash out any excess dye and leave you with a beautiful piece of fabric!

Socks, towels and lace naturally dyed with Marigold flowers

Inspiration and Learning More

There was definitely a lot of inspiration for our Marigold dyeing. If you want to learn more, I’d recommend checking out Billy Nou’s E-Books and Maggie Pate’s course on natural dyeing. Both of these courses provide an amazing amount of information and inspiration on how you can do your own natural dyeing.

I hope you find your own passion for natural dyeing! It’s an amazing hobby that produces beautiful fabrics. Definitely tag me in your own creations on Instagram (@mytinylagunakitchen). I’d absolutely love to see them and answer any questions that come up!

How To Natural Dye using Marigold

How To Natural Dye using Marigold

Prep Time: 2 hours
Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Difficulty: Intermediate

Naturally dyeing with Marigold flowers yields absolutely stunning fabrics. It's also a fun hobby with limitless possibilities that allow you to make your own custom fabrics.

Instructions

  1. First you will need to immerse your white fabrics in a heated scouring bath for 40 minutes.
  2. Next immerse your fabrics in the mordant bath heated for one hour. Then turn off the heat and let stay immersed for 12-24 hours.
  3. Heat up a pot of water large enough to handle your fabrics. Put in the Marigold flowers and let extract for 30 minutes.
  4. Wash off your fabrics and tie in the design of your choosing.
  5. Immerse the fabrics in the dye for 30-45 minutes or until the color you are looking for is fully extracted.
  6. Remove from dye and hang to dry.
  7. Once fully dry, wash gently with cold water.
  8. Enjoy your beautiful, naturally dyed fabric!

Did you make this project?

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