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How to Flower Pound on Fabric

Claudia has been writing about crafts online for many years. She is an avid crafter who has been creating for most of her life.

Put your flowers from the garden to good use with flower pounding!

Put your flowers from the garden to good use with flower pounding!

Flower Pounding

Using flowers to color fibers has been done for thousands of years. Until the mid-1800s, natural dyes were the only option available, these dyes are still used to a lesser extent today and come from all types and parts of plants. Flowers provide one of the main pigment sources for many dyes, and their vibrant hues can be used in many different ways.

One of the most interesting ways to use the pigment from flowers is a craft called flower pounding. It's a great way to preserve the colors of summer or a special bloom that means so much. The finished product can be used in quilts, made into a pillow, or even framed and hung on the wall. You'll be delighted with the results when you learn how to flower pound on fabric.


  • 1 yard of white or off-white 100% cotton fabric (Do not use synthetic fibers as they may not take the color)
  • Alum
  • Washing Soda
  • Clean Bucket
  • Water
  • Old wooden cutting board (or another firm portable surface)
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Wax Paper
  • Masking Tape
  • Hammer
  • Flowers
  • Fine tip permanent marker or fabric pen
Color samples from a variety of flowers

Color samples from a variety of flowers

Preparing the Fabric

Before the flowers can be pounded onto the fabric, the fabric needs to be prepared. This will enable the natural dyes to adhere to the fabric permanently.

These directions and measurements are for 1 yard of fabric.

  1. Wash the fabric in your regular laundry detergent and 2 tablespoons of washing soda. *Washing soda can be found in most grocery stores in the laundry detergent section.
  2. Run the rinse cycle at least one more time to ensure the washing soda is completely rinsed out.
  3. In a bucket, dissolve 1/4 cup of alum in 2 cups of hot water. Soak the rinsed fabric in the solution for 2 hours. *Alum can be found in the spice or canning section of most grocery stores.
  4. At the end of the 2 hours, dissolve 1 tablespoon of washing soda in 1 cup of hot water and add this solution to the solution already in the bucket. Continue to soak the fabric for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Wring out the fabric completely and let it line dry. Do not rinse out.
  6. Once dry, press your fabric using an iron on the hottest setting with steam. It is now ready to use.
Flower designs

Flower designs

How to Flower Pound on Fabric

Once your fabric is ready, the fun begins.

  1. Cover the top of the cutting board with wax paper using masking tape to ensure the paper doesn't slip when pounding. The wax paper keeps the dyes from staining the board.
  2. Cut a piece of the prepared fabric to your desired size.
  3. Place the fabric on top of the wax paper-covered cutting board and tape it to the board over the wax paper. Taping makes sure the fabric doesn't slip when pounding.
  4. Go out and pick flowers and leaves. *If you choose flowers with higher centers like black-eyed susans or coneflowers, you'll need to cut the center so the flower lays flat. Don't use white flowers. They have no pigment and will not show up on the fabric.
  5. Lay the flowers face down on the fabric making sure they are flat as possible. You may have to take the flower apart and arrange the petals once you're happy with the design, tape down each flower as firmly as possible.
  6. Once it's completely taped, get out your hammer and start pounding away. It's best to do this step outside on the ground so that nothing gets broken. Make sure to pound evenly and don't pound too hard. Pull the tape up from time to time to see how it looks.
  7. Once you're finished, carefully remove the tape and crushed blooms and set the fabric out to dry.
  8. Once dry, scrape off any remaining flower pulp.
  9. Heat set the colors with an iron on the highest setting and no steam.
  10. If desired, use a fine-tip permanent marker or fabric pen to outline the flowers for a little more definition.

Note that many flowers produce dramatically different colors once they have been pounded. Our burgundy and yellow coleus leaves produced navy blue and green, and our lemon yellow moonbeam coreopsis turned a vibrant orange. Have fun and experiment with your flowers and leaves.

Enjoying Your Work

Flower pounding is a fun and rewarding craft for all ages. Use your creations to make a wall quilt or throw pillow. Sew a crocheted ribbon around the border and you have a lovely table topper. The ideas are endless when you learn how to flower pound on fabric.

© 2012 Claudia Porter


Sonalika Jain from New Delhi, India on April 02, 2014:

ooo that's greate :)

Claudia Porter (author) on April 02, 2014:

Thanks so much Sonalika Jain. It really is fun and now that spring is coming here in US there will be lots of flowers to use.

Sonalika Jain from New Delhi, India on April 01, 2014:

Wow, this sounds like fun

Thanks for sharing

Claudia Porter (author) on July 21, 2013:

It really does give some cool results FlourishAnyway. Who knew! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 19, 2013:

Neat! I've heard of people being told to go pound sand, but never flowers! Very pretty.

Claudia Porter (author) on October 20, 2012:

I appreciate it frogygish! If you have not had a frost yet, it's the perfect time to collect some blossoms from your garden. Thanks for the visit.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on October 20, 2012:

This craft is delightful. I had never of heard of it til I received a pounded lavender muslin bag recently. Your hub info and tips are great. I thank you for sharing it here.

Claudia Porter (author) on October 18, 2012:

Thanks Melovy! I've never tried it on the autumn leaves. I'll be curious to know if the colors translate on to the fabric well and in the same way. I appreciate the comments!

Yvonne Spence from UK on October 18, 2012:

Wow, this looks like fun and a great way to create some exciting designs. I had to look up alum because I've never heard of it before. I haven't seen it in our supermarket or groceries, but perhaps that's just because I haven't looked before - will do now as the autumn leaves would be perfect for this!

Claudia Porter (author) on October 08, 2012:

I appreciate your support vespawoolf! This is a lot of fun for all ages. I hope you give it a try.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on October 07, 2012:

I'd never heard of flower pounding! What an interesting craft. I think it would be fun to do with children and would look great on a throw bringing summer into the home. Thanks so much for the step-by-step instructions and details. Voted up and shared!

Claudia Porter (author) on October 07, 2012:

Thanks the girls! I would not do this on a shirt. The colors will not last very long with repeated washings. Also, you'd have to treat the shirt first. I appreciate the comments.

Theresa Ventu from Los Angeles, California on October 07, 2012:

Interesting hub! Can we wash the fabric and the colors will not run? It looks really cool and I was thinking of pounding this on a white shirt.

Claudia Porter (author) on October 03, 2012:

Thank you Pamela. I hope you enjoy doing this craft. It's loads of fun. The flowers definitely turn to mush after they are pounded, but the results are worth it.

Claudia Porter (author) on October 03, 2012:

Thanks so much Peggy! I appreciate the comments. It's fun to do something with natural dyes.

Pamela Dapples from Arizona. on October 03, 2012:

This is great. I'd never heard of this. I was a little confused when I got to the part about taping down the flowers. I re-read to make sure you mean with masking tape but then I realized of course you don't need the flowers again, so it's okay to tape them down. I must try this. Voting up, useful and awesome.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 03, 2012:

What a fun idea to create things by using the dyes and designs of flowers. I had never heard of flower pounding before reading this interesting hub of yours. Thanks! Up votes and sharing.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 29, 2012:

Thanks so much! This is a really fun craft with nice results. Fun for a sentimental flower or just some from the garden.

Rich from Kentucky on September 28, 2012:

Gimmer -

Very interesting. All the way through it I was wondering about the length of time they would last, and your care area pretty much answered the question. Great Job!

Claudia Porter (author) on September 19, 2012:

Thank you Deborah! It is one of those throw back crafts as I like to call them. It's fun to use the natural ingredients and see what mother nature and elbow grease can create. Now if could just get my hands on some of those gorgeous flowers from your BHG test garden hub I could make a real masterpiece! I appreciate the comments.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on September 19, 2012:

What an interesting technique. I've never heard of it before, but now I'll have to try it. I can think of so many cool ways to use the fabric. The video is a really nice touch, too. Great job!

Claudia Porter (author) on September 15, 2012:

Rajan. - Many thanks for the visit. It really is fun to do and nice to use fresh flowers.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 15, 2012:

Thanks Torys! It is a lot of fun. The whole family can do it. Especially pounding the flowers with a hammer.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 15, 2012:

Absolutely terrific right to the last detail, GTF. Though, I'm hardly at doing crafts, I could visualize the entire process as I read.

Voting it up, useful and awesome. Sharing this on FB and pinning.

Torys Ten from Central Utah on September 14, 2012:

Gee whiz, I had never heard of such a thing as flower pounding. I am not a very creative fellow, but love creative ideas and this is great. I hope I can get my wife to try this. If not, maybe I will have to try it, but I am afraid to try. Great hub!

Claudia Porter (author) on September 14, 2012:

Thank you so much tillsontitan! It is a bit of work, but it is fun. Especially if one has had a bad day. If that's the case the hammering does the trick to get frustrations out! I appreciate the votes.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 14, 2012:

Au Fait - Many thanks for the share. This is definitely an old time craft. It's also nice to use things from the garden in crafts. I love this kind of thing.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 14, 2012:

Thanks so much RealHousewife! I think you should give it a try with your marigolds. I appreciate the comments.

Mary Craig from New York on September 13, 2012:

You come up with some of THE most interesting crafts! Looks like work but the end result looks so rewarding. Love your pictures. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

C E Clark from North Texas on September 13, 2012:

This is a very old art and it's interesting to read about how it's done. I have several books I've found at thrift sales describing some of the old arts and crafts and how they used to be done and they are some of my favorite books. I think we are losing some of the old ways of doing things that were really beautiful. I'm so glad to see you are helping to keep flower pounding alive. It can be used for some really beautiful finished projects.

Voting you up and beautiful! Will share.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on September 13, 2012:

This is such a gorgeous idea! I love your flowers from your garden!

I have always wondered how this would be done naturally (dye from flowers for cloth or ancient make-up). Very cool!

I just noticed I have some huge blooms in my garden today - a giant yellow Mariogold popped up with it's head above the crowd:)

Claudia Porter (author) on August 31, 2012:

You are welcome Rtalloni!I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks so much for reading!

Claudia Porter (author) on August 31, 2012:

Thank you Sharkye! I have not tried zinnies. Marigolds have great color, but are high flowers and they have tons of petals so it's hard to cut them flat. I would give it a try though. They produced the most gorgeous gold color.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 31, 2012:

I appreciate the comments Jamie. It is a lot of fun to do. I hope you give it a try!

Claudia Porter (author) on August 31, 2012:

Thanks Mama Kim. A friend of mine said she did this on fabric too. I guess this is a more permanent version and can be used in different crafts. Thanks for the comments and the share!

RTalloni on August 30, 2012:

Oooooh! Designing fabrics with flowers makes perfect sense. Thanks for this introduction to this craft with instructions and tips.

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on August 30, 2012:

Great hub! I have seen this done before on very old linens, but the lady called it flower-stamping. I had completely forgotten about it until I read this article. I have a lot of flowers blooming outside, and might try this, if I can find washing soda. Do you recommend any particular flowers? I have a lot of zinnias and marigolds.

Thanks for sharing the instructions for this wonderful craft!

Jamie Brock from Texas on August 30, 2012:

This is really neat, I'd never heard of using flowers to color fabrics before. Thank you for sharing :)

Aloe Kim on August 30, 2012:

Beautiful, and such a fun project to do with kids ^_^ I used to do this all the time as a kid but I never prepared the fabric, sometimes I'd just use paper ^_^ I'll have to do it the right way with my kids. Thank you! voted up and shared!

Claudia Porter (author) on August 30, 2012:

Thanks for the support Bill! I think you ought to give it a try. It's very therapeutic once that hammer gets going and then you have a nice gift for someone! :)

Claudia Porter (author) on August 30, 2012:

Thank you Nettlemere. It is a lot of fun to do. I appreciate the comment on the video. It's the first one I ever did. Thanks!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2012:

I seriously can't see myself doing this :) but I wanted to show you some support, so here I am.

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on August 30, 2012:

That's a really intriguing technique and a great straightforward video too.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 29, 2012:

Thank you girishpuri. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on August 28, 2012:

A great idea i never thought of this and n addition to my knowledge, useful hub.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 28, 2012:

Hi teaches - Thanks for the visit. I really appreciate your comments. I've always liked crafts that are a little off the main path. I think you should give it a try. Thanks!

Claudia Porter (author) on August 28, 2012:

mollymeadows - I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and it is a great way to use up flowers. I love your cat picture! I had a cat named Molly so every time I see your picture I think of her. Thanks for the comments.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 28, 2012:

Thank you so much for the share, vote and pin Just Ask Susan! I hope you give it a try. I know you'll have a good time and I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

Dianna Mendez on August 28, 2012:

How beautiful! I would love these as table topper. You always post such creative ideas and I always come away so impressed.

Mary Strain from The Shire on August 28, 2012:

How fun! I had never heard of this, but it's beautiful! Such a clever way to make use of the last of the summer flowers in your garden! Up and interesting!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on August 28, 2012:

This is beautiful! I would love to try doing this. Sharing, pinning and voting +++

Claudia Porter (author) on August 28, 2012:

Thanks so much tammyswallow! I'm glad you enjoyed. I hope you give it a try. Thanks also for the comments and share! I appreciate your support.

Tammy from North Carolina on August 28, 2012:

That is just gorgeous. I have never seen this or heard of this. The possibilites are just endless. Excellent hub, craft, and video. Sharing!!!

Claudia Porter (author) on August 28, 2012:

Thanks joaniebaby! I'm glad you'll be trying it. You'll have fun. Thanks for the vote and comments! I appreciate it.

joaniebaby on August 28, 2012:

Thanks for another great Hub. Something I will be trying. It is amazing what you can learn from other's hubs. Voted up and beautiful. Keep up the good work.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 28, 2012:

Brainy Bunny - Love your bunny sketch. I'm so glad you enjoyed this. You're right, it is a bit more violent so it's great if you've had a really bad day! Have fun hammering away. Thanks for the comments and visit!

Claudia Porter (author) on August 28, 2012:

Hi Annabelle. Thanks for the comments. Baking soda is not the same as washing soda. Washing soda is a detergent booster so you can probably find it in the detergent booster section. I'm glad you liked the hub!

Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on August 27, 2012:

This is beautiful! I can't believe I've never heard of this technique — it's so much more violent than simply pressing flowers — right up my alley. ;-)

Annabelle Tyler on August 27, 2012:

What a great idea to preserve a little summer! Is washing soda the same as adding baking soda?

Claudia Porter (author) on August 27, 2012:

Hi Nell - You'll have a lot of fun doing this. It's really good to do on a day that has not been so great. One can just pound out their frustrations on a poor unsuspecting flower!:) Glad you liked it. Thanks for the visit.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 27, 2012:

Thanks for the vote, tweet and pin mvillecat! I'm glad you liked the hub. Interesting that the color lasted on your flour sacks. I think I'd still be careful washing them though. Love the idea of doing flour sack towels.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 27, 2012:

Thanks Dirt Farmer! It is always fun to see what colors you are going to get. Some flowers don't give out much color at all, maybe a dull grey or light brown. Glad you enjoyed it.

Nell Rose from England on August 27, 2012:

What a great idea! I would never have thought of it, but its something that I am definitely going to try, thank you! what fun and I have some places in the house that will look great with this effect, especially the cloth that goes on the back of the sofa! brilliant!

Catherine Dean from Milledgeville, Georgia on August 27, 2012:

I did this and the flour sack towels lasted for many years with the prints. Even after hundreds of washings. I voted up, tweeted and pinned.

Jill Spencer from United States on August 27, 2012:

Really cool idea! Interesting how some of the flowers don't produce the colors on fabric that you'd expect.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 27, 2012:

Hi Jackie - It really is a fun way to use your flowers. Just make sure the fabric is 100% cotton. I bet it would be pretty on a pale pink or pale blue too. I appreciate the comments.

Claudia Porter (author) on August 27, 2012:

I appreciate the comments ttoombs! I've always been fond of crafts that are a little "off the beaten path" as they say. I'm glad you enjoyed it too!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 27, 2012:

Wow, this sounds like fun, and I have flowers by the tons! I'd love to try it on a pastel light weight material. Bet this would be a good try for making cushion covers too, for practice anyway. Very good!

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 27, 2012:

Very interesting. I have never heard of this, either. Great hub, Glimmer and thank you for bringing something so unique! :)

Claudia Porter (author) on August 27, 2012:

I'm glad you liked it pstraubie! Washing soda is a detergent booster and the one I got was arm & hammer in a yellow box. It's not the same as baking soda. Thanks for the visit and votes. Hope you have fun!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 27, 2012:

Awesome!!! I have never seen this before. I love hubpages. I learn so much every day. I cannot wait to try this. Washing soda is not baking soda?? I will need to look for this product. Do you have a product name for it? I will research online too. Thank you for sharing this Voted up and beautiful and pinned.