How to dye a silk scarf

Introduction: How to “Marble” Dye Pretty Silk Scarves

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

Don’t you just love a pretty, colorful silk scarf? Did you know that it’s actually very easy to dye your own? All you need is the right tools and some basic know-how.

There are many, many different techniques for “marble” dyeing fabric. I like to experiment with different folding and tie-dyeing methods. Also, there are many ways to set the dye so your final scarf won’t bleed. The acid dyes I use have to be heat set. This can be done by steaming your scarves, heating in the oven or with your microwave. I personally stay away from microwaving silk scarves because it’s too unpredictable (and can burn up your microwave). To begin, cover your table with plastic and make sure you wear old clothes!

Step 1: Supplies:

Plastic Gallon Bags

Disposable plates and cups

Roasting Pan with steamer basket or old pie tins(disposable -don’t use for food after dyeing!)

Latex gloves (optional)

Step 2: Wash & Soak & Fold!

First you want to wash your silk scarves in warm, soapy water to remove any sizing and oil from your hands. Heat up about a cup of vinegar to very warm, but not hot temp. (Silk loses its luster if exposed to very high temps.) Soak your scarves in the vinegar for about 20 minutes. While your scarves are soaking, mix up the dyes according to the directions on the dye container. Take your scarves out of the vinegar and squeeze out the excess liquid.

Folding How you fold or scrunch your scarf will determine the pattern. For the first scarf, I wanted an “accordion” pattern so I folded it in half lengthwise and beginning at one end, loosely folded it back and forth. Scarf 2, I just wadded and scrunched up in a ball. Place each scarf on a disposable plate. Now comes the fun part…

Step 3: ​Adding the Dye

Apply 2-3 colors of dye to each scarf – just enough to saturate the fabric. As you can see, I used a bit too much dye but that’s ok Scarf 1 colors: Sapphire Blue and Hot Fuschia Scarf 2 colors: Emerald Green, Turquoise and Yellow Sun

Step 4: Steaming

Carefully lift your scarf (keeping the shape) and let some of the excess dye drain. Place in plastic bag. (Separate bags if you’re doing more than one) Now, place the steamer basket (or old pie tins) in the bottom of your roasting pan to keep the bags out of the water. Add about an inch of water and place your plastic bags on top. Cover the roaster. Turn burner on medium heat and once the water begins to simmer, turn down to low. Simmer for about 1 hour. Take a peek under the lid a couple of times to make sure there is steam. This is needed to set the dye.

Step 5: ​Finishing

All that’s left now is to carefully take the scarf out of the bag – It will be HOT – and rinse in warm water until the water runs clear. If the scarf continues to bleed, which happens sometimes, simply pop it in a clean bag and steam again.

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4 Comments

How to dye a silk scarf

This is so pretty! Can’t wait to try this!=P

How to dye a silk scarf

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Thanks! Stay tuned. more dyeing methods coming up!

FYI, I apologize for the late response. For some reason I don’t get notified by Instructables when there is a comment. 🙂

Introduction: How to “Marble” Dye Pretty Silk Scarves

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

Don’t you just love a pretty, colorful silk scarf? Did you know that it’s actually very easy to dye your own? All you need is the right tools and some basic know-how.

There are many, many different techniques for “marble” dyeing fabric. I like to experiment with different folding and tie-dyeing methods. Also, there are many ways to set the dye so your final scarf won’t bleed. The acid dyes I use have to be heat set. This can be done by steaming your scarves, heating in the oven or with your microwave. I personally stay away from microwaving silk scarves because it’s too unpredictable (and can burn up your microwave). To begin, cover your table with plastic and make sure you wear old clothes!

Step 1: Supplies:

Plastic Gallon Bags

Disposable plates and cups

Roasting Pan with steamer basket or old pie tins(disposable -don’t use for food after dyeing!)

Latex gloves (optional)

Step 2: Wash & Soak & Fold!

First you want to wash your silk scarves in warm, soapy water to remove any sizing and oil from your hands. Heat up about a cup of vinegar to very warm, but not hot temp. (Silk loses its luster if exposed to very high temps.) Soak your scarves in the vinegar for about 20 minutes. While your scarves are soaking, mix up the dyes according to the directions on the dye container. Take your scarves out of the vinegar and squeeze out the excess liquid.

Folding How you fold or scrunch your scarf will determine the pattern. For the first scarf, I wanted an “accordion” pattern so I folded it in half lengthwise and beginning at one end, loosely folded it back and forth. Scarf 2, I just wadded and scrunched up in a ball. Place each scarf on a disposable plate. Now comes the fun part…

Step 3: ​Adding the Dye

Apply 2-3 colors of dye to each scarf – just enough to saturate the fabric. As you can see, I used a bit too much dye but that’s ok Scarf 1 colors: Sapphire Blue and Hot Fuschia Scarf 2 colors: Emerald Green, Turquoise and Yellow Sun

Step 4: Steaming

Carefully lift your scarf (keeping the shape) and let some of the excess dye drain. Place in plastic bag. (Separate bags if you’re doing more than one) Now, place the steamer basket (or old pie tins) in the bottom of your roasting pan to keep the bags out of the water. Add about an inch of water and place your plastic bags on top. Cover the roaster. Turn burner on medium heat and once the water begins to simmer, turn down to low. Simmer for about 1 hour. Take a peek under the lid a couple of times to make sure there is steam. This is needed to set the dye.

Step 5: ​Finishing

All that’s left now is to carefully take the scarf out of the bag – It will be HOT – and rinse in warm water until the water runs clear. If the scarf continues to bleed, which happens sometimes, simply pop it in a clean bag and steam again.

Be the First to Share

Did you make this project? Share it with us!

Recommendations

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

STEM Contest

How to dye a silk scarf

Role Playing Game Challenge

How to dye a silk scarf

Cardboard Speed Challenge

How to dye a silk scarf

4 Comments

How to dye a silk scarf

This is so pretty! Can’t wait to try this!=P

How to dye a silk scarf

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Thanks! Stay tuned. more dyeing methods coming up!

FYI, I apologize for the late response. For some reason I don’t get notified by Instructables when there is a comment. 🙂

Silk Scarves are a great way to add a little color to your life and it is easier and faster than you think to make your own amazing hand dyed scarf. This is a great project for making quick gifts, as a fun activity with a bunch of friends at a party, or for making playsilks for the kids. Scarves or fabric done this way come out deliberately mottled and often with interesting color splitting. Wonderful visual texture!

Shopping list:

  • Silk Scarves: we used our new Machine Hemmed Scarves #MCDC, #MCHIF, #MH8
  • Acid Dyes: we used Dharma Acid Dye in #455 Royal Purple, #460 Saffron Spice, #461 Avocado
  • Citric Acid or white vinegar
  • Plastic Spoons
  • Hot Water
  • Microwave steamer bags or a microwavable dish just for dye projects
  • Synthrapol Detergent
  • Written and Photographed by Elizabeth Holdmann for Dharma Trading Co.

Let’s get started!

How to dye a silk scarf

Arrange your scarf.

Use Rubber bands to tie your scarf. On the Habotai scarf we made random gathered pleats and used two rubber bands to loosely hold them.

How to dye a silk scarf

Wet your scarf.

Dunk your scarf in hot water to get it wet all the way through and squeeze out the extra water.

How to dye a silk scarf

Twist and roll. With the Chiffon scarf we twisted down the length of the scarf and wrapped it up around a finger to make a knot of sorts.

How to dye a silk scarf

Crumple your scarf into a lump.

How to dye a silk scarf

Get creative! You can stitch, clamp, and knot up your scarf anyway you want play around and see what results you get.

Put your scarf into your bag or dish.

Sprinkle on citric acid and acid dye.

Using only about ½ tsp of dye, sprinkle it over your wet scarf.

How to dye a silk scarf

Using about 1 tblsp of citric acid, sprinkle it over your wet scarf.

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

Add the water.

Pour in enough water to saturate your scarf, about ½ cup depending on scarf size. Smush the scarf around to help get the dye and citric acid dissolved and penetrated into the scarf.

How to dye a silk scarf

Hint: If you add more water and smush more your color will end up more even but less interesting, it is up to you.

Microwave your scarf.

Close up your bag so there is about a 2 inch gap, you want it to vent a little. If you are using a dish, cover it in plastic wrap but leave a little vent on the side.

How to dye a silk scarf

Microwave on High for about 2 min. Keep an eye on it, the bag will swell and you may need to pause the microwave to give it time to deflate.

Let your scarf rest for minute while you check the bag. You want the water to start turning clear. If the water is not yet clear, put the scarf back in for another 2 min.

After the second 2 min let your scarf cool down.

Wash out your scarf.

Once the scarf is cool, rinse it out with cool water. After a first rinse remove any rubber bands, ties, etc. Then keep rinsing with cool water until the water runs clear.

How to dye a silk scarf

Using some synthrapol give your scarf a gentle hand wash with some luke warm water. Use cool water to rinse out the synthrapol until the water runs clear.

If you want you can use some Milsoft Fabric Softener to return some of the soft hand to the silk.

Once your scarf is dry it is ready to wear. Iron it if you like your silk more smooth and shiny.

How to dye a silk scarf

Turn food scraps, flowers, and plants into wearable art with bundle dyeing, an easy, non-toxic, and sustainable technique that extracts beautiful colors from everyday natural materials. The process, good for any natural fabric (silk, wool, cotton, or linen), uses dyestuffs (whole dye plants and extracts) that are playfully spread onto fabric, bound into a bundle, and steamed to release organic color. Upcycle an old garment or bundle dye a piece of silk to make this go-to spring accessory.

What You’ll Need
35″ x 35″ light-colored silk fabric square
Mild detergent
Spoon
Cotton string
Vegetable steamer
Stainless steel pot with lid
Tongs
Alum mordant (available on Amazon or at any art supply store)
Dye materials (details below)

Dye Materials
Yellow onion skin (yellow)
Red onion skin (green)
Red rose petals (purple)
Black tea (tan)
Turmeric powder (bright yellow)
Dried marigolds (light orange)
Madder root extract (red; available at botanicalcolors.com)
Cochineal extract (pink; available at botanicalcolors.com)

Instructions

How to dye a silk scarf

Wash Fabric: Add fabric, warm water, and a bit of mild detergent to a pot (A). Bring water to a simmer and keep simmering for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let fabric sit overnight in the soapy water for best results.

Mordant Fabric: Rinse washed fabric in cool water. Refill pot with warm water and dissolve ¼ cup of alum mordant for every quart of water (B). Bring to a simmer and let fabric soak for minimum of 2 hours. Let cool. For best results, let fabric sit overnight in alum mordant water. This will ensure the colors won’t wash out after it’s dyed. Rinse fabric and let dry.

How to dye a silk scarf

Create Bundle: Spread fabric out and sprinkle dye materials evenly onto the fabric (C). Less is more when using natural dyes. Feel free to mix materials. Fold the four corners of the fabric into the center, add a sprinkle more of dyestuff, and fold in the corners again (D). Repeat this folding in process two more times (E). Finally, bind fabric tightly with string (F). You should have a small bundle that fits in the palm of your hand.

How to dye a silk scarf

Steam: Place vegetable steamer in a pot with about two inches of water (G); place the bundle on the steamer and secure the lid. Steam the fabric bundle for 45 minutes on low to medium heat. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool. Remove bundle with tongs.

How to dye a silk scarf

Reveal: With scissors, carefully cut string to release bundle. Shake off steamed dyestuffs, and view your beautiful dyed silk scarf (H)!

By Molly George
Photographed by Ashley Batz
Hair and makeup: Karla Hirkaler, using Glossier and Amika
Model: Chloe Mills at Red

December 2, 2018 By: CyndiJ 7 Comments

How to dye a silk scarf

If you are looking for a fabulous, unique, EASY project, then this DIY Sharpie Tie Dye Scarf Tutorial is for you! I love to create these for last-minute gifts or fun projects when I get together with girlfriends. They make any simple outfit simply beautiful……and since they are so easy to create, you can always have an extensive collection on hand!

How to dye a silk scarf

Let’s Do This: Sharpie Watercolor Scarf!

  • Sharpies in various colors and points

I really love to use wider-nib markers so they create bigger designs, but the techniques are SO endless. It’s beautiful to create big washes of color, then go back with a fine point to define the lines. Play with it….make a couple “sample” scarves to find the design technique you like best. I use both of these Sharpie marker collections with great success: Sharpie fine point and Sharpie chisel point. Sharpie ultra fine are great to use after your watercolor design has dried – you can go back into your design and add detail and definition with the thin black line it makes.

I like to use silk because it “bleeds” the marker design evenly and creates a beautiful watercolor effect. Scarves come in many different dimensions, so chose one that compliments your final design. I have found great silk blanks at many online retailers, like Amazon and Dharma Trading . I usually use the 8″ X 54″ scarves because they are so versatile, but some people like square shapes, longer rectangles, whatever! There are so many options – it’s good to have a collection in various shapes, sizes and designs.

Just regular ol’ rubbing alcohol will do. Keep your Grey Goose for the company. BUT, if you love doing these Sharpie tie-dye designs, invest in a big bottle of rubbing alcohol. It’s cheap, and you always have your craft supply on hand.

  • Spray bottle and/or dropper

This is used to apply the alcohol – but if you find a method you like better (like a paint brush), then rock on, Sister Scarf Maker. I love to use pipettes because they hold a lot….and I hate to keep drawing alcohol while I apply it to the scarf.

That’s really it. The rest of the supplies are up to you – they’re used to minimize the mess. And you know how I feel about messes – I encourage making them (in the name of art and fun, of course).

I put newspaper, then butcher paper under the scarf and tape it down (lightly). This allows the scarf to be taut while I draw the design. You decide what layers work for you (and your work area).

How to dye a silk scarf

Draw your design. BAM.

How to dye a silk scarf

Involve your family (sans the Sharpies for the little ones).

How to dye a silk scarf

Just keep drawing! Have fun! You seriously CANNOT make a mistake on this project!

If you thought you had fun making your design, PUT ON YOUR ART-FUN SEATBELT for the next step because it’s even MORE EXHILARATING!

**Before this step, I put towels underneath the scarf so the alcohol can be absorbed, and doesn’t “sit” underneath the scarf.

How to dye a silk scarf

Using the spray bottle or pipette, apply alcohol to your design and let the marker lines turn into running watercolor. I know. It’s almost too much excitement for one project.

How to dye a silk scarf

Let it dry – which doesn’t take long, because it’s alcohol – it has weak molecular bonds. But you knew that.

That’s it! If you want, go back with a fine point black marker and re-define the shapes. The finishing steps are up to you…the artist. But whatever you do, enjoy your beautiful new wearable work of art.

How to dye a silk scarf

How to dye a silk scarf

If you love the simple, unique, FABULOUS look of Sharpie tie-dye, then check out our other projects for bags: Sharpie Marker Tie-Dye Tutorial . They are JUST as much fun.

How to dye a silk scarf

I hope this tutorial was helpful! I’d love to hear your comments, questions, and suggestions below. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our AMAZING monthly newsletter, full of fabulous crafts and ideas! It’s delivered right to your inbox – no stalking or hovering involved.

When you have finished applying the dye to the silk or wool yardage or scarf – it’s not permanent until you do something else. You have to “set” or”‘fix” the color so you can wash or dry clean the piece without all the color washing out.

The method of “setting” or “fixing” the color depends on the chemistry of the dye you are using. Before purchasing any dye you should read the directions thoroughly to determine if the required proceedure fits your project and situation (time or space available, inclinations i.e. lifestyle). You will also learn how that particular dye or paint needs to be fixed (set, made permanent).

DYES AND METHODS OF FIXATION

  • The flowable paints (Dynaflow, Setasilk) – only ironing or a No-Heat additive.
  • Jacquard Silk (Green Label only) can be set using steam or a special liquid fixative but will yield deeper richer colors when steamed as opposed to being fixed with the liquid fixative.
  • Dupont, Vinyl Sulphone and Acid Dyes require prolonged steaming to set the color.

Steam fixation is essential for the last group of dyes and preferred for many others. They need to be steamed to achieve adequate color intensity and washability. The high temperature heat and pressure produced by steaming bonds dye and silk molecules together.

Best results are achieved using a professional home steamer. Dharma carries two types: the upright electric self-contained steamer and the stove top steamer. Smaller pieces can, however, be steamed successfully on the stove much like one steams vegetables, and we have directions for making a steamer out of a household pot here.

PREPARING THE FABRIC FOR STEAMING

When steaming it is important that the fabric does not touch itself at any point. If it does, the dye will transfer from one place to another and cause smearing. Also, water from the steaming process can never be allowed to come into contact with dyed silk. This will create spots and smears and designs you may not desire. To prevent these unwanted effects the fabric must be wrapped or rolled in paper and protected from itself and condensation from the steamer.

Rolling the fabric for the electric steamer or the stove top steamer.

The silk should be rolled between sheets of newsprint or similarly absorbent material – the paper or material you use must be porous enough to allow the steam to penetrate. If you use newspaper, the ink must be completely dry, at least six weeks old.

Roll a few layers of paper onto the pole you are using. Then begin rolling the fabric onto the poll between the layers of paper while keeping it smooth to prevent wrinkles from developing. The paper should extend at least two inches beyond the silk at each end. The length of the paper you use is not important as it can be overlapped. You can roll one piece of fabric or many scarves. Continue rolling until all the fabric is on the roll. Finish by wrapping an extra two layers of paper around the fabric and secure the roll with tape. Place the roll in the steamer and you are ready to start.

Steaming Time

The length of time required to set the dyes depends on the type of dyes and the amount of fabric on the roll. Generally, steam time will range from 30-45 minutes (for reactive dyes like Vinyl Sulphone) – after the water is boiling – to 2-3 hours for the French dyes and Jacquard Silk.
The larger the roll of fabric, the more time necessary, as the steam must penetrate to the center of the roll. Be sure to keep the temperature steady and constant.
Check the directions of the dye you are using for the correct/ appropriate steaming time and then adjust for the amount of fabric being steamed- the more fabric, the longer the time.

How to dye a silk scarf

Turn food scraps, flowers, and plants into wearable art with bundle dyeing, an easy, non-toxic, and sustainable technique that extracts beautiful colors from everyday natural materials. The process, good for any natural fabric (silk, wool, cotton, or linen), uses dyestuffs (whole dye plants and extracts) that are playfully spread onto fabric, bound into a bundle, and steamed to release organic color. Upcycle an old garment or bundle dye a piece of silk to make this go-to spring accessory.

What You’ll Need
35″ x 35″ light-colored silk fabric square
Mild detergent
Spoon
Cotton string
Vegetable steamer
Stainless steel pot with lid
Tongs
Alum mordant (available on Amazon or at any art supply store)
Dye materials (details below)

Dye Materials
Yellow onion skin (yellow)
Red onion skin (green)
Red rose petals (purple)
Black tea (tan)
Turmeric powder (bright yellow)
Dried marigolds (light orange)
Madder root extract (red; available at botanicalcolors.com)
Cochineal extract (pink; available at botanicalcolors.com)

Instructions

How to dye a silk scarf

Wash Fabric: Add fabric, warm water, and a bit of mild detergent to a pot (A). Bring water to a simmer and keep simmering for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let fabric sit overnight in the soapy water for best results.

Mordant Fabric: Rinse washed fabric in cool water. Refill pot with warm water and dissolve ¼ cup of alum mordant for every quart of water (B). Bring to a simmer and let fabric soak for minimum of 2 hours. Let cool. For best results, let fabric sit overnight in alum mordant water. This will ensure the colors won’t wash out after it’s dyed. Rinse fabric and let dry.

How to dye a silk scarf

Create Bundle: Spread fabric out and sprinkle dye materials evenly onto the fabric (C). Less is more when using natural dyes. Feel free to mix materials. Fold the four corners of the fabric into the center, add a sprinkle more of dyestuff, and fold in the corners again (D). Repeat this folding in process two more times (E). Finally, bind fabric tightly with string (F). You should have a small bundle that fits in the palm of your hand.

How to dye a silk scarf

Steam: Place vegetable steamer in a pot with about two inches of water (G); place the bundle on the steamer and secure the lid. Steam the fabric bundle for 45 minutes on low to medium heat. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool. Remove bundle with tongs.

How to dye a silk scarf

Reveal: With scissors, carefully cut string to release bundle. Shake off steamed dyestuffs, and view your beautiful dyed silk scarf (H)!

By Molly George
Photographed by Ashley Batz
Hair and makeup: Karla Hirkaler, using Glossier and Amika
Model: Chloe Mills at Red

musings of a small girl in a warehouse

tutorial: how to dye your own silk scarves pt. 1

Dyeing scarves is a two day process for me, as they need a while to dry before you steam them. So this is part one of a two part tutorial on how to dye your very own silk scarf! For this project, you’ll need:

  • haboti silk scarves (mine are the 11″ x 60″ from Dharma Trading Company)
  • dye (i’m using jaquard silk dyes, also from Dharma)
  • salt (Dharma sells “silk salt,” however, any old salt will do)
  • spray bottle full of water
  • spray bottle full of alcohol
  • paint brush
  • something to mix your colors in (i’m using baby food jars)

The first thing your going to want to do is to wash your scarves. Sometimes the industrial washing process can leave chemicals on the fabric, and we don’t want them to interfere with our dying. I simply washed mine in hot water with a little bit of dish soap. After your scarves are dry, you need to stretch them out onto a frame for painting. I made my frame myself, based on the instructions I found on this website.

How to dye a silk scarf

Now it’s time to mix some colors and get to painting. I’ve done a lot of cool-toned scarves lately, so I thought I’d go with a warmer palette for this one. Because the dyes are going to get mixed and blended together, this step dosen’t need to be perfect. Have fun and experiment!

How to dye a silk scarf
I tend to start with darker colors first. Keep working, mixing colors and adding them to your base swirls.
How to dye a silk scarf
until all the white space is filled in.
How to dye a silk scarf

At this point the scarf is probably going to look pretty weird, but fear not! We still have to blend!
Begin by spraying your scarf down with the alcohol. You’ll see that the alcohol reacts with the dye and forms a kind of rain drop pattern. This will work with the water and salt to make our dye blend more.
Next, spray the piece down with water. You really want to saturate the scarf at this point, it’s what will blend your colors together and get rid of some of the harsh lines.
Now that your scarf is wet, you may have noticed it’s starting to sag and the dye has started to run into the wrinkles. I like to re-tension my scarves at this point to prevent dye pools. I’ve also noticed that tension helps the salt pull the dye in interesting patterns.
After it’s all tensioned up, it’s time to add salt. The salt will pull the dye in interesting, organic ways and help to blend the colors even further.
How to dye a silk scarf
Now, leave it alone to dry! This is the absolute hardest part for me, because I like to keep toying with things. But trust me, leave it alone and let the salt do it’s work.

Next time we’ll examine how the salt pulls the dye, and talk about setting and finishing our scarves!