How To Naturally Dye with Marigold FlowersOriginally published on October, 19th 2020. Last updated on April 20th, 2022 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!
Getting Started with Natural Dyeing
I believe there are two different kinds of dyers 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 is 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 few materials you will 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.
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!
Step 1: Scouring Bath
There are two options when scouring your fabrics, in pot and washing machine. With the pot scour method, you can use any type of fabric (protein or cellulose), but with the washing machine method, it’s best not to use protein fabrics.
In the pot scour method (protein fibers – silks, wools)
- Weigh your garments (dry) in grams
- Fill a pot two-thirds of the way with hot water (not boiling but hot to touch).
- Add 3% WOF (weight of fabric) PH neutral dish soap to water. You can also use a wool-specific washing soap such as eucalan!
- Let soak and stir regularly for about an hour.
- Drain, rinse, and move to the mordanting step!
Washing machine scour method (cellulose fibers)
This method is only recommended for cellulose fibers and clothing or fabric that is not coming directly from a manufacturing facility! Fabric that is directly from a supplier is often saturated with oils and needs to be pot scoured for best results.
- Weigh your garments (dry) in grams
- Add 5% WOF (weight of fabric) of soda ash to your washing machine where the detergent goes. Add a drop of a PH-neutral detergent in as well! (We recommend the seventh generation brand!)
- Set your washing machine to the hottest setting available, and the longest setting available.
- Wash and move to the mordanting steps!
Step 2. Mordant your fibers!
Both cellulose and protein fibers require a different type of mordanting recipe to ensure the natural dye binds with the fabric. We will go through both recipes, just make sure to use the one that matches what you wish to dye.
Cellulose Fibers Mordant Recipe
- Based on your original fiber weight calculated above, measure 10% WOF in aluminum acetate.
This can be purchased on Maiwa or Etsy.
- Fill your pot with hot water (the hottest tap will suffice) and dissolve the aluminum acetate into the water. Make sure the aluminum acetate is fully dissolved.
- Add your fibers and stir regularly for 4-24 hours. Do not leave fibers in for more than 24 hours as aluminum acetate can deteriorate and weaken fibers.
- Rinse in cold water and add to the dye bath!
**If you don’t have aluminum acetate available, there are recipes that include aluminum potassium sulfate and a tannin step. This can be used for cellulose fibers as well!
Protein Fibers Mordant Recipe
- Based on your original fiber weight calculated above, measure 10% WOF in alum (aluminum potassium sulfate). This can be purchased on Maiwa or Etsy.
- Fill your pot with hot water (the hottest tap will suffice) and dissolve the alum into the water. Make sure the alum is fully dissolved.
- Add the garments to the pot and bring the water to a simmer for two hours.
- Let cool, rinse, and add to dye bath!
Once your fibers have been mordanted, you are ready to start dyeing!
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 from the beautiful color of 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 cellulose fabric, feel free to a 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.
After 45 minutes, you are ready to take your fabrics out of the dye bath. The result of dyeing with Marigolds will yield 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!
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 a 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!
Just for fun, 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.
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!
Inspiration and Learning More
There was definitely a lot of inspiration for our Marigold Natural Dyeing. Especially the ladies behind, Rooted Botanics! A huge thank you to Rooted Botanics for helping to write and update this blog post. Rooted Botanics runs a pop-up and online vintage shop out of Los Angeles, CA. where they upcycle clothing, by mending & naturally dyeing. Be sure to follow Rooted Botanics on Instagram, for more inspiration and a peek into the behind-the-scenes of their creative process, product launches, where and when they will be popping up in a market or store near you in Southern California.
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!
- stainless steel pot to dye in
- about 20 marigold flowers
- First you will need to immerse your white fabrics in a heated scouring bath for 40 minutes.
- 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.
- Heat up a pot of water large enough to handle your fabrics. Put in the Marigold flowers and let extract for 30 minutes.
- Wash off your fabrics and tie in the design of your choosing.
- Immerse the fabrics in the dye for 30-45 minutes or until the color you are looking for is fully extracted.
- Remove from dye and hang to dry.
- Once fully dry, wash gently with cold water.
- Enjoy your beautiful, naturally dyed fabric!