Natural dyes are a non-toxic solution to factory created, chemical dyes. Many plants can deliver amazing colors that you can use to color and dye clothing, food and many other items. One fun way to use flowers as dye, is to press them into tea towels. This way you can use flowers to naturally dye your tea towels.
Naturally Dye Tea Towels with Flowers
This fun technique is easy to accomplish and a perfect craft for spring. In just a few simple steps, you can use flowers to make beautiful designs on tea towels. This makes a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day or birthdays. It’s also a great spring decoration.
Getting Your Materials Together
To complete this craft, you'll only need a few materials.
- Tea Towels - which you can pick up at any craft store or buy them online.
- Flowers – Pick out flowers with bright colors like blues, purple, reds and pinks. You’ll end up with a better transfer of color to the tea towel.
- Painter’s Tape
- 2x4 Piece of Wood - It doesn’t have to be this measurement exactly, but the wood needs to be big and thick enough to hit with a hammer and not split or break.
Before You Begin
Sketch out an idea of how you want your design to look. Once you get started, the colors may not be exactly as you pictured, but figuring out the general design will give you a blue print.
Large flower petals, such as rose petals, look like big circles once they have been transferred to the fabric. Consider small flowers for this type of project, as large flowers won't look as delicate or pretty, but more like a large stain.
Preparing the Flowers
Choose flowers that are bright! Reds, purples, blues and dark pinks will give you the best coverage. Some suggestions would be: carnation petals, violets, heather, petunias and alstroemeria petals.
To get the best dye transfer from the flower to the tea towel, tape the flower directly to the tea towel in the direction and the design that you desire. It would be best to try this on an old t-shirt or cloth napkin before trying this on your final product.
Be sure to tape the flower to the “front-side” of the tea towel, this will ensure that the most vibrant color will be in the front side and the excess color will come through the back.
Using the Hammer
Place the tea towel, tape down, directly where the flower is located onto the piece of wood. Use the hammer to hit the flower petals. You will immediately see color come through the tea towel.
Hit all parts of the flower with the hammer until the color from all of the petals has been transferred to the tea towel. This may take some work. In fact, the first time I tried this. I was surprised at how hard I had to hit all areas of the flower to get the color to transfer.
Repeat the Process
Once the dye from the first flower has transferred, remove the tape and the flower and repeat the process with additional flowers or flower petals. The green dye from the leaves will also transfer if you want that color to be added to your design.
Continue to transfer color from your flowers until you have achieved the design from the natural dye that you desire. Because this process is labor intensive, I suggest doing accented corners on a tea towel or napkin. However, feel free to get as creative as you'd like.
Setting the Dye
Once you have finished transferring all dye from your flower petals onto your tea towels, its important to set the dye. This will help allow the dye to maintain its vibrant color for longer. However, since this is natural dye, the life of the dye will be shorter than mass produced chemical dyes.
The best way to set the natural dye of the flowers is by using heat. Use an iron and heat with an iron on the hottest setting, do not use steam. This will provide the most permanent solution for your color transfer.
The dye from the flowers will wash out in the washer using standard detergent. It’s best to use these tea towels as decoration and, if necessary, dry clean only will be your best bet.
Keep the tea towels out of direct sunlight. All dyes fade from the sun, but natural dyes fade more quickly. Using these beautiful tea towels sparingly will give them the longest life.
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