Coreopsis produces a strong yellow/orange dye. It is easy to grow, although it does require full sun and good drainage. It flowers from July to autumn, self seeding readily and requiring little maintenance.
Harvest the flowers in full bloom. Cutting the plants back will encourage continuous flowering through to the autumn – until the first frost. The flowers can be used fresh or dried for dyeing.
To dye with coreopsis you will need:
- 100g of fresh coreopsis or 50g of dried coreopsis
- 100g of alum mordented fibre or yarn (dry weight)
- 10 litres of water
- 12 litre stainless steel bucket
Place the coreopsis in the dye bucket, cover with the water then allow to soak overnight. The following day gently heat to simmering point and simmer for one hour. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. In the meantime soak the fibre/yarn in another container for several hours.
When the dye bucket is cold, strain the plant material through a double layer of muslin cloth. This plant material can then be used again for paler shades if you wish or composted.
Squeeze the soaking fibres and add to the dye bath. Slowly heat to simmering point. Do not allow this to overheat. Simmer for 1 hour, gently moving the fibres from time to time, but do not agitate. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Vinegar or lemon juice will bring out the yellows whilst a small amount of soda ash will bring out the reds.
When cool, remove the fibre/yarn, squeezing gently – do not wring.
Rinse well in tepid water until the water runs clear and wash gently in mild liquid soap followed by a final rinse.
The dye remaining in the bucket can be used again to produce paler shades of the same colour until it becomes exhausted.