Dyeing with flower petals tutorial
Dyeing with flower petals is a fun way to use up waste from floristry or from your garden. This week I popped over to the very lovely Acacia Floristry in Malmesbury (a fabulous florist, Jodie always has something unique and beautiful for you, be it for the home or wedding or event). Jodie had diligently kept all her flower petal waste in a bucket for me to collect to do this little experiment.
Normally make my own plant dyes using one type, but this time I wanted to achieve a delicate print effect rather than an overall dye so in the bucket were hyacinths, delphiniums, forsythia and magnolia petals. In hindsight having not dyed with any of these flowers before I should have done individual tests first, but to be honest I was just too excited to try it out!
It’s a pretty simple method which anyone can follow, but it does have very varying results so don’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t turn out exactly the way you envision first time. The more you practice the more you start to understand how different plants work, and part of the fun is not knowing exactly what you’ll produce!
You’ll need: fabric (we used a silk scarf, but cotton fabrics will work too), string, alum (a mordant to help the colour ‘stick’, available on Amazon and most fabric dyeing shops), vinegar, water, flower petals, hob ring, saucepan and colander.
Pre-soak your fabric in alum ( 1 part alum to 4 parts weight of the fabric you are using) overnight.
Collect all your flower petals – they can dry out a bit or be fresh, but try to avoid browning ones.
Lay out your fabric flat (squeeze out any excess moisture) and add your petals all over. You can add them in patterns if you like.
Roll up your fabric starting at one end. Keep it as tight as possible.
Once you have your sausage shape tie it with string in a few places to stop it unrolling.
Place in a colander over a saucepan of boiling water for one hour (be very careful not to let the saucepan boil dry).
Allow to cool in the fridge in a ziplock freezer bag over night – the longer you leave it the more vibrant the colours will be.
Unroll and discard the petals.
Gently rinse in vinegar (whch helps set the colours a bit more), and then hand wash to remove any flower residue.
You should see a delicate pattern of the petals imprinted on a background of whatever flower happened to be the dominant shade. Some flowers will have stronger dyeing capabilities than others. Ours turned out a fresh pale green/yellow shade with soft blue smudges from the delphiniums. It’s fascinating how the different colours are produced, and so many turn out completely different to what you might imagine.
If you give this a try at home I’d love to hear from you!
Styling & Photography by Kate Cullen
Flowers from Acacia Floristry