Eco Dyeing With Flowers: Part 1

I have always loved experimenting with natural dyes.  The colors found in nature, in flowers, plants, and vegetables are so much more vibrant and beautiful than artificial colors, and it’s extremely rewarding when you are able to capture that color on a piece of fabric and wear it.  It’s also just really fun to do, and something I’ve been wanting to experiment more with ever since my first experiment with fruits and vegetables.  I recently discovered India Flint, an innovator in the art of natural dye, and her work completely blows me away.  She is an expert when it comes to eco dyeing and her book “Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes For Beautiful Textiles” is a must-read if you’re interested in learning more about this practice.  She and other eco dyers use a method of covering a piece of fabric with your plant materials of choice, and wrapping it around a stick and tying it into a little bundle that is then steamed.  I was intrigued and knew I had to attempt it!

eco dyeing with flowers

What you need: A piece of fabric, a stick, and flowers.  You’ll also need a stove, large pot and a colander (if you don’t have a steamer) to steam the bundles.

eco dyeing with flowers

Lay out your piece of fabric and start placing the flowers on it.  The first batch of flowers was a bouquet that included roses, lilies, and chrysanthemums. I decided to take the petals off of the rose and spread them out a bit.

eco dyeing with flowers

I couldn’t resist… ;)

eco dyeing with flowers

I decided to keep the rose petals towards one end and more green towards the other end.

eco dyeing wtih flowers

Once you’re happy with how your flowers are arranged, place the stick on one end and roll your fabric around it.

eco dyeing with flowers

eco dyeing with flowers

I decided to make two bundles because I wasn’t sure how the flowers I chose would work out.  For the second one I used some primroses, begonias, African violets, and more rose petals.

eco dyeing with flowers

I love the deep red color of these African violets, and their leaves have a nice color too that I hope works well for this!

eco dyeing with flowers

eco dyeing with flowers

eco dyeing with flowers

eco dyeing with flowers

Once your bundles are rolled up, wrap them with twine to secure them.  When I get home I’m going to steam them for an hour.  I don’t have a steamer, if you don’t either, just place a colander inside a large pot and fill with water up to the bottom of the colander.  Place the bundles in the colander and boil the water to let them steam.  After an hour you can remove them and let them cool over night.  If you want to give them more time, put the bundles in airtight Ziploc bags and let them sit for a few days.

I can’t wait to see how this works! Stay tuned, I’ll reveal my results next week!

UPDATE: Check out the results in Eco Dyeing with Flowers, Part 2!

More DIY Projects from the BLDG 25 Blog.

Photos by Julia.



  1. I loved the veggie dyes, and this looks like even more fun. Can’t wait to see how it turns out and try it myself. And thanks for sharing the book, I’ll have to check it out!

  2. I love Eco bundling!! I’ve done this on silk velvet and it turned out so beautiful because silk takes dye so well–also try giving the fabric a light dusting of turmeric in certain areas before you steam it and it will add a bright yellow in between the pinks…I also used a lot of purple wildflowers to create a darker variation. If use the right combo of flowers you can get some really beautiful dye techniques!! I like to call it rainbow unicorn surprise

  3. This is so cool. I have a question about the steaming…do you have a lid on? Thank you for bringing such interesting things to all of us.

  4. I love experimenting with different dying techniques as well! As a designer, I am always looking for new methods to try. Great idea! Can’t wait to see the results!

  5. Man! I wanna see the finished results real bad…just came across this on Pinterest and am quite intrigued at the idea of natural dyes. I work with yarny fibers and might have to try this with that. Or something of the likes.

  6. I love how Free People won’t hire someone without a college degree, but they will let someone take a picture with a manicure that looks to be several weeks old. Gross.. if I were taking the photos, I would not allow this… Thank GOD I am a photographer, and you don’t need a degree to be an artist to spot what looks good in a photo and what clearly does not.

  7. Kimberly,
    Free Spirits don’t need perfect manicures.
    Crunchy left over nail polish might actually be preferred. :)
    And I think the photos are lovely.

  8. It makes me so sad when people are unnecessarily rude :(
    Anyways, I can’t wait to see the results! I wish I could try this – but I can’t in my dorm room. Guess it will have to be a summer project. Keep up the good work, FP! <3

  9. Hi, Julia!
    This is an interesting method.
    What size of your fabric that you use in this experiment?
    I want to try this eco dying in a large fabric approx 1.5×1.5 yard.
    Can you please tell me how to do it?

  10. Such a great idea!!! I can’t wait to try it!!! I wonder what other plants and flowers will work– will have to do some experimenting. What will you use the finished fabric for?

    As for the nail polish, mine looks similar right now… hehe. Some of us are just too busy having fun! :-)

    Have a beautiful day and keep the awesome ideas coming!

  11. I was just curious how this project is going so far. I would like to try it but want to know if it really works. I look forward to seeing the results…. good or bad.

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    desire?.I am attempting to find issues to enhance my website!I assume its good enough to make use of some of your ideas!!

  13. This’s another beautiful post from you! Natural dyeing is indeed an appreciation in terms of feel of freshening colors and no risks of synthetic harms!

  14. Do you use anything to set the dye, like vinegar, etc? I want to try this. would this work on felted fabric as well, or could you use muslin?

  15. I just completed a Shibori class and am obsessed! I am eager to try out some botanical dying next but wonder if you have found much success just using the boiling water or do you need another liquid to really extract the colors……very curious on your thoughts :)

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  17. I found your blog on Pinterest, so I came to give it a look. I’m enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be share this to my Friends! Wonderful blog and amazing design and style.

  18. Will this fade over time and if washed if only vinegar was used? Can another technique be applied to ensure the color lasts?
    If so how long will color last for and would it need to be redone?

  19. Please can I ask if it is necessary to use some sort of fixative to ensure the colours remain? Is it possible to wash the fabric once dyed using this method?
    Thank you

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