Natural Dyeing

Natural dyeing with Chamomile and Marigold Flowers

Dried chamomile and marigold flowers are two herbs which can be used for dyeing natural fibers such as wool or fabric. They produce pleasant pastel shades of cream and yellow. If using chamomile flowers, use the same weight of lowers as the weight of material to be dyed. If dyeing with marigolds, allow twice the weight of flowers to the weight of material.

You will need:

    1 pound dried chamomile flower heads or 2 lb dried marigold flower heads
    1 pound clean sheep´s wool or cotton fabric
    6 tbsps alum (potassium aluminum sulfate)
    2 tbsps cream of tartar
    Large enamel or stainless steel dye pan or saucepan
    Rubber gloves

1- Dissolve the alum and cream of tartar in the pan in enough water to cover the fabric or wool. Add the fabric or wool when the water is warm and heat slowly until the water is boiling.

2- Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. This process is called mordanting and is necessary to fix the natural dye already in the fabric.

3- Drain the wool or fabric from the pan and set aside. Discard the mordant.

4- Put the flowers in the pan and add approximately 10 pints cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.

5- Strain off the flower heads and add the mordanted wool or fabric to the liquid dye. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour or until the desired color is reached. The longer the fabric is boiled, the more color it will absorb.

6- Remove fabric or wool from the pan, rinse gently in cold water and hang out to dry. Hand-washing is recommended thereafter in case the color runs.