Learn how to use calendula flowers to dye fabric and create a simple garden bunting.
Calendula (Calendula Officinalis), also known as pot marigold, is part of the same plant family that includes marigolds and sunflowers, offers a bright and vibrant bloom often associated with summertime and sunshine. Thought to have originated around the Mediterranean, this edible plant is known for being an essential culinary and medicinal resource. When added to a dye pot, it produces a golden natural dye used to dye butter, cheese, and textiles. Brewed as a tea, it emits a spicy aroma that is a soothing digestive ally. Its topical use is myriad and it is beneficial for a multitude of skin ailments.
Growing Calendula from seed is rewarding and straightforward. Sew the seeds directly in the ground in mid-spring or early summer in full sun. When the plants start to bloom, harvest the whole flowers in the heat of the day. Dry the full flower heads for later use, or add the fresh petals to many foods, including home-baked bread. Calendula is a welcome and attractive addition to any garden.
Natural dyes are fun to work with and offer a unique art process with a rewarding result. Calendula flowers are part of the sunflower family, and when added to a dye pot, they render a stunning and bright shade of sunshine yellow. With your family, grow, dye, and sew your way through this slow craft experience to create a cherished keepsake. Pair this project with vintage or thrifted fabric and doilies to enhance its sustainable nature. Use your completed bunting to add flair to your next garden-side celebration.
DYE WITH CELANDULA FLOWERS
10 Pieces of 100% White Cotton Fabric, Doilies, or Silk (Thrifted or Repurposed Cloth )
1 Sewing Needle (or Sewing Machine)
5ft Cording or Fabric (Cut into 2″x 5 FT Length)
1 Cup Fresh or Dried Calendula Flowers
1 Larg Pot with a Lid
4 Tablespoons Alum (Potassium Alum Sulfate)
1 Metal Sieve
1 Glass or Ceramic Bowl
Drying Wrack or Clothesline
PREPARE THE FABRIC
- Before beginning the dyeing process, launder your fabric with non-scented soap and hang to dry.
- After washing, place the dry fabric into a basin of warm water and the alum powder. Mix the contents so the alum covers all of the fabric.
- Allow the fabric to cure for at least one hour or overnight before starting the dyeing process.
PREPARE THE DYE BATH
- Select a pot that can easily fit all of your fabric and have a lid that fits well.
- Fill the pot 1/2 way with water. Place the pot on the stove, and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the calendula. Keep boiling for 3-5 minutes. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.
- With the sieve, remove as much for the calendula petals from the dye bath, and discard.
DYE THE FABRIC
- With the tongs, submerge the fabric into the dye bath.
- Then, place the lid on the pot and allow it to simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Use the tongs to remove the fabric from the pot and put it into the bowl to cool
- Hang the fabric to dry.
CREATE THE BUNTING
- Once your fabric is dry, use scissors to cut the fabric to the desired size. For this project, we cut the doilies in half and the fabric pieces into 4’x4″ squares.
- Layout your cording on your work surface, and place each piece of dyed fabric on top of the cording, pin it in place 1″ along the top of the fabric. Allow 1/2″ to 1″ of spacing between each fabric piece.
- Next, thread your needle and do a running stitch along the top of the material, making sure to go through the cording too as you stitch. Consider using a sewing machine to enhance the speed of this step.
- Tie off loose threads and add any finishing touches to your bunting.
- Hang in your garden or home and enjoy!
TIPS & TRICKS
- Use 100% natural fibers. Cotton, muslin, wool, silk, and linen hold take to dye well.
- In this project, we use Alum (Potassium Alum Sulfate) as a mordant. It is best to prepare your fabric in a bucket, sink, or large pot. Use a ratio of 1/4 cup of salt to 4 cups of water when measuring.
- For a richer hue, allow the material to sit in the dye pot overnight.
- If you don’t have access to Calendula, marigolds or Turmeric will also render a vibrant yellow tone.
- Indulge in the process of this project, and spread out the steps over several days. This project is better when you take your time.
- Select a non-reactive metal Dye pot (such as stainless steel or aluminum) with a lid that is not used for everyday food cooking.
- Children delight in natural dye projects. Older children enjoy learning sewing skills and can assist with measuring and cutting the fabric to size, threading the needle, and doing simple running stitches.