Natural ingredients such as roots, bark, berries and flowers were once the main ingredients for dyeing different textiles. It has been only inthe last 150 years that synthetic dyes have become the mainstay of dyeing fabric. However, natural homemade dyes are en vogue again with the rising interest in using materials that are both safe for the environment and health. Flowers that you've grown in your garden or found in the wild can be used to dye cotton, wool, silk or muslin fabric and yarn so that you can prolong the enjoyment of their beautiful colors.
Select the yarn or fabric you would like to dye. White or pastel fabric shows the dye colors best. Wool, cotton, linen and silk—natural rather than synthetic materials—hold the dye the best.
Collect flowers you would like to use as a dye. Use about 8 cups of flowers to dye a T-shirt. You can use flowers such as cornflower or hyacinth to achieve a blue color. Safflower and hibiscus will bring out a red color. Lilacs and snapdragons produce a yellow color. Saint-John's-wort and red clover make a gold dye and hollyhocks brown.
Collect only 2/3 of the flowers in a specific wild area so that you don't prevent them from producing new blooms. Blossoms are best to use when they reach full bloom.
Chop your flower blooms into small pieces and place them in a large pot. If you are using roses, add lavender, mint and lemon juice to create a pink dye.
Put your flower pieces in your pot, and cover them with double the amount of water. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer for an hour.
Mix together enough water to cover your fabric or yarn with 1 part vinegar per 4 cups water in the other large pot. Simmer the fabric in the mixture for an hour. This will help to fix the color to the fabric so that it doesn't fade during washing.
Rinse out the vinegar and water from the garment until it runs clear. Strain the flowers from the dye that has been simmering.
Soak the fabric in the dye liquid until it reaches a shade darker than you desire. You can soak it overnight for deeper colors.
Wash your fabric under cool running water until the water runs clear of dye, and then machine wash it in cold water without any other garment. After it dries it will appear lighter in color. You can wash the newly dyed garment with your regular wash now. You can also reuse any leftover dye to color more fabrics.