Fabric dyeing using dahlia and alum mordant

Recently I have been experimenting fabric dyeing using dahlia and alum mordant. At the moment dahlia flowers in my garden are in bloom. Weather has been cold recently so it is marking the end of dahlia growing season soon.

This blog is a follow on blog after i have recently dyed some fabric by just using dahlia and ivy alone with no mordant. Now I have been using mordant which is alum and cream of tartar.


Alum is a relatively safe mordant to use for fabric dyeing as it’s use in cooking, drinking water, anti-perspiration and deodorant products. It is normally use in conjunction with cream of tartar as it helps to increase the uptake of alum in fabric dyeing. More information here Mordant in natural dyeing (part 1)

Different types of dahlias

I use dahlia flowers that have been left to rot in the greenhouse. Not by intention, I left them in the greenhouse to dry by themselves. They rotten down to compost instead of drying out.  I use the semi rotten down flowers into the dye pot. Different types of protein and cellulose fabrics were put in the dye pot. They were pre wash in synthrapol left to dry then dip into alum and cream of tartar solution. I didn’t have much fabrics to dip into the dye pot as they were divided for future natural dye experiments.

The result was a colour of dark brown as it was the colour seen before any heating up was done.

However, I decided to use fresh dahlias that were just harvested yesterday and look at the results completely different colour. I added some bicarbonate and it made the colour darker. The dahlias were of white and dark red hue.

Then I got another lot of fresh dahlias from the garden this time these were of yellow and orange hue.

orange yellow dahlia grown in garden

The dahlia on the right is from darker shade dahlia and on the left is the lighter shade. One has been mordant the other not (the lighter shade). It’s hardly noticeable in the pictures though.

Absolutely vibrant and amazing colours. i didn’t have do any adjustment to the colours. They are just lovely to look at. So that is just to shows how much different colours can one get from rotten down, fresh and different colours of dahlia flowers can make to a dye pot.


dyeing dahlia flowers dyeing with dahlia flowers

3 thoughts on “Fabric dyeing using dahlia and alum mordant”

  1. Pingback: Shibori patterning - Maker gardener

  2. Pingback: Mordant in natural dyeing (part 1) - Maker gardener

  3. Pingback: Fabric dyeing with hardy hibiscus - Maker gardener

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