This article contains an overview of natural yellow dyes that can be used to dye both yarn and fabric.
If you are planning to create a yellow colorway with natural dyes, you are in luck. Yellow is in fact the most common color you get when using natural dyestuff. There are quite a number of plants and natural materials you can use to dye yarn or fabric yellow. Let’s have a look at some options, shall we?
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Natural Yellow Dyes for Yarn and Fabric
Here is a selection of dye plants or natural materials you can use to dye textiles yellow. Whenever there is a blog post on how to use this specific dyestuff available on my website, it will be linked for you down below.
Table of Content:
If you want to learn how to dye yarn with natural dyes, you can check out this step by step tutorial on my Youtube channel:
#1 Natural Yellow Dyes from Flowers & Plants
When we think about colors in nature, flowers are usually the first thing that come to mind. The abundance of color through different hues, bloom times, shapes and sizes is simply amazing. There are quite a number of flowers and plants that can be used to create a natural yellow colorway.
Dyeing with plants that are considered weeds and are available in abundance is always a favorable option. According to the literature , dandelions (you can use both the flowers and the leaves) produce clear shades of yellow that can be shifted towards green when modified with iron.
Personally, I have dyed with dandelions only one time so far and wasn’t too impressed with the colorways I got. Instead of a clear yellow, I received a soft vanilla that shifted towards a greyish green when modified with iron. You can read more about my results of dyeing with dandelions in this blog post.
The flower heads of dyer’s chamomile produce a buttery, soft yellow. You need equal amounts of yarn and dyestuff but you can omit the heating step and opt for the solar dyeing method because the dye is rather potent. In this blog post I describe in detail how I created these soft yellow hues using dyer’s chamomile.
The shade of yellow that you get from dyeing with goldenrod might be my favorite yellow of all. It is clear and vibrant and in addition, goldenrod is easy to use and a very potent dyestuff. You can even create saturated colorways with the solar dyeing method where you don’t apply any additional heat. You can learn more about solar dyeing with goldenrod in this blog post.
Nettles are another weed that are a wonderful natural dye source. They produce soft shades of vanilla which can be shifted towards a sage green with iron sulfate. I have written a blog post all about natural dyeing with nettles which you can find here.
It might come as a surprise to you, that pink rose petals can be used to create shades of yellow. The colorway you will get from dyeing with roses highly depends on the type of rose you use, though. I used to have a light pink rose in my garden that created the most vibrant shades of yellow (pictured below). Another rose with very radiant pink flower heads produced more of a soft tan color. You will have to experiment and see for yourself.
Sunflowers are the epitome of a yellow flower. And they do not disappoint when it comes to their dye potential. Sunflower petals produce beautiful, saturated shades of yellow.
Weld or dyer’s rocket is one of the oldest yellow dye plants and has been used for thousands of years. Later on, weld was displaced by fustic which has a stronger dye potential. The part of the plant that is used for natural dyeing are the tops. They are harvested in the summer time and can be used both fresh and dried .
There are a number of other flowers than can be used a natural yellow dye source. Common yarrow, coreopsis, daffodils, dahlias, heather, marigolds, Queen Anne’s lace safflower, tansy and yellow cosmos are just a couple of examples.
#2 Natural Yellow Dyes from Trees and Shrubs
Elder or elderberry is a versatile natural dyestuff which allows you to use different parts of the plant for natural dyeing purposes. You can create beautiful and colorfast colorways by using the leaves as well as the bark. However, be aware that dyeing with the berries will not give you long lasting results! Although they create an appealing pink color at first, the dye is not colorfast and the color will fade to a beige tone very quickly.
To create shades of yellows, you can use the elderberry leaves. They create a very vibrant yellow with a green undertone. In this blog post I share a step by step tutorial on how to dye with elderberry.
Fustic has a long tradition as a natural color source and has been used in Europe since the 16th century. It is derived from the heartwood of a tree that belongs to the mulberry family. Fustic creates shades of bright yellows or mustards and can be modified with iron into shades of olive green.
When it comes to natural dyeing, there is always an element of surprise involved. The discovery that you can create warm and saturated shades of yellows with pine needles was for sure a pleasant surprise. During a hike through the woods, we discovered a branch that had recently fallen off from a pine tree during a storm. We took it home with us and I made a dye bath from the wonderfully smelling pine needles. It resulted in an absolutely gorgeous shade of yellow. In addition, it produced a vibrant yellow-green when modified with iron. I used the yarn to make two pairs of socks, one for my husband and one for myself. We have worn and washed the socks a number of times and the colorfastness is very good.
In addition, other trees and shrubs than can be used a natural yellow dye source are the leaves of apple, cherry, peach, pear, plum, almond, apricot; ash, barberry, birch leaves, bog myrtle, buckthorn, dyer’s broom (dyer’s greenweed), hawthorn, juniper, walnut leaves and osage orange.
#3 Natural Yellow Dyes from Vegetables and Fruits
Since onion skins are a form of kitchen waste, they are a very sustainable natural dyestuff option. You can use both the yellow and red outer skins but you will receive the clearest shade of yellow if you only use yellow skins. The shades you get will range from yellow to orange, rust and brown.
Onion skins can also be used as an addition to a dye bath. They will brighten up the color of yellow dyes and intensify the orange hue of madder dye baths . If you want to know more about natural dyeing with onion skins, you can have a look at this blog post.
Pomegranate skins are another great dye source made from kitchen waste. Pomegranates are rich in tannins which improves the colorfastness of the dye. They are known for producing brownish yellows.
Widely known as a spice in Asian curry dishes, turmeric can also be used as a natural dye. However, the dye is not colorfast. Therefore I strongly recommend that you opt for another plant material to create natural yellow colorways.
Other vegetables and fruits that can be used to naturally dye yellow are rhubarb and sorrel.
What is your favorite way to create yellow colorways using natural dyes? Come share in the comments!
And if you are looking for other natural dye sources to dye a different color, check out this blog post on Natural Green Dyes for Yarn and Fabric.
Want to learn how to dye yarn using natural dyes?
I have created a beginner’s guide to natural dyeing that contains everything you need to know to get started. And the best thing: it is available for free!
Pin It For Later: Natural Yellow Dyes for Yarn and Fabric
 Dean, Jenny, et al. Wild Colour: How to Make & Use Natural Dyes. Mitchell Beazley, 2018