The flowers in North Carolina are beautiful from Spring through Summer! I can't resist grabbing a pair of gardening clippers and pulling my car over on every side street to snatch a few blooming branches. I've dye tested all sorts of buds this summer - from daffodils and cherry blossoms to camellias and crepe myrtle blossoms - but my favorite color combination so far is from a dyed bundle of camellia flowers. The tonal pinks and purples, mixed with the yellow stamen, make for a winning combination. I plucked these flowers in Spring and threw them in a ziplock freezer bag and kept them frozen until I was ready for this project. You can do the same with any flowers that are currently available in your region. This tutorial will show you how to naturally dye fabric yardage. I'll link out to a few of my favorite ideas for what to do with your freshly dyed linen below. Grab your shears and get to know your neighbors or hop on over to your local flower district and pick up a few stems for testing. Since camellia buds are mostly out of season, test other options like rose petals, hibiscus, pansies, violets, begonias, and sunflowers.
Tools & Materials:
- 100% linen fabric or silk fabric, 1-2 yards, in white or natural
- Flower buds/petals/leaves, about 6 cups (frozen, optional, see Tip)
- natural cotton twine or 6 rubber bands
- large stainless steel cooking pot
- white vinegar
- large steel spoon for stirring
- pH free laundry detergent
Tip: I froze my petals in a ziplock bag because I wasn't quite ready to dye at the time of picking.Sometimes freezing flowers beforehand will help yield stronger dye colors, but sometimes not. As always, test first before dyeing a large project.
1. Soak your fabric in a bucket of 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar. Wring it out and lay it on a flat surface.
2. Sprinkle the petals and flower buds over the entire fabric surface.
3. Once you like the arrangement of flowers start rolling up the fabric. Keep the fabric taut as you roll from one end to the other. I don't always love the effect of an exact print which can happen with bundle-dyeing. A looser bundle will help disperse the colors more to provide an ombre effect.
4. You can roll it in the opposite direction as well to make the bundle smaller to fit completely in your pot. If you are only dyeing a yard of fabric this step is probably unnecessary.
5. Secure the bundle tightly with twine.
6. You can steam or boil the bundle. I find that steaming works best but if you don't have a steam pot just go ahead and fill your steel pot with enough water to cover the fabric, bring to a boil, stir occasionally and let it sit in the boiling water for an hour. If you are steaming, let it steam for 1.5 to 2 hours. Make sure to keep an eye on it and never leave a pot on the stove unattended. Be mindful whether you are boiling or steaming to always make sure there is ample water in your pot.
7. Remove the bundle and let it cool overnight. Once cool remove the twine and unwind the bundle removing all the plant matter.
8. Hang the fabric to dry. Once completely dry, press the fabric with an iron to seal in the color. Hand wash the fabric in cool water with pH free detergent and hang to dry.
You can use the fabric many ways. I stitched all my edges and hung it on the wall as a banner. Here are a few more suggestions:
Turn into easy throw pillows
Use for furoshiki wrapping cloths
Sew a couple napkins for your dinner guests
Make the cutest little shoe bag I've ever seen, these could also double as jewelry bags or farmers market bags