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How to Dye a Scarf

Using Jacquard Green Label Silk Dyes

This is great fun to do.  I hope you try it!

Cover your working surfaces with some sort of plastic.  I use rolls and rolls of plastic wrap.  No matter how careful you are this gets messy.  Your hands will also be colored for a few days.  Try the rubber or latex gloves.  See how that works for you but it never does for me.  You can help your hands clean up faster by scrubbing with a buff puff.

I dye in my kitchen.  If the dye gets on your counter or any porous surface, it will stain.  I clean it up right away then scrub the linoleum with cleanser.  I've always managed to get it off although sometimes it is a fight.  I would imagine on some surfaces you'd have a permanent stain.

I get all my silks from Dharma.  There's several different types of scarves.  I've tried most of them and they are all nice.  I especially like the Crepe De Chene, the Silk Satin and Silk Charmeuse.  http://www.dharmatrading.com/

Wash your silks.

I use Orvus, a soap for horses, for this first wash.  Orvus is just Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

You can use Synthrapol-http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/2127-AA.shtml

I have yet to try the Synthrapol.

Sometimes I just use a cold water liquid wash like Woolite.



Gather your supplies.   I use the Jacquard Dyes Green Label-http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/1796-AA.shtml

Jacquard colors have strength and character. Yellow, Magenta and Cyan are the primaries.

Get those three colors and  that will be enough to get you started.  Unless you need black.  I always need black.

Dick Blick also carries the Jacquard dyes-http://www.dickblick.com/zz012/34/

A bit cheaper price on the dyes at Dick Blick.


We're going to do a wet on wet technique on top of the  plastic wrap you laid out.  Put your wet scarf on top of the plastic wrap.  The plastic wrap protects your surface and gives the scarf some textural effects.

There a lot to talk about effects you can achieve.  Let's just show how easy this one is first.

I put the dye in squirt bottles. I like to use just one, two or three colors.  Oh,then there's black.  So, four colors at the most. 

Squirt on your first color or you could simply paint it on. These are like watercolor washes with a squirt bottle or brush.  Just get the dye on there and watch the cool effects.  The first color here is Brown Sienna.  Some people get nervous at this point.  You're having fun.  You have freedom to play with color. Isn't it great!  If you really don't like it when it's done, you can always over dye it or stamp it with paints.  So keep going.  It is difficult to mess these up.  The silk and the colors are working for you.


Next color is Cyan.   Oh no!....just keep going.
I added some turquoise.  With a make-up sponge, I moved the colors around a bit and took away any white spots.  The plastic wrap under the scarf is pretty wet now.  Get your steamer pot started and let the scarf dry where it is.  I took a blow dryer and helped this one along before wrapping it in newsprint.  You could put the scarf in the steamer damp for less intense color. I'd make a total mess so I wait until it's dry.  If you let it sit for 24 hours or more your colors are more intense.  I'm going to rush the drying process along with a blow dryer on this scarf.
Here's what it looks like dry.  I threw some salt on it, but the salt effect doesn't work well when I rush it with the blow dryer. You need to be patient to wait on the salt.  Other ways to get effects are gutta (resists), alcohol, or try painting at this point wet on dry. 

When it's dry, wrap it in newsprint like a jelly roll.

The water is in the bottom of your pot.  Steamer thingy on the bottom above the water.  Add your jelly rolled wrapped scarf.  Try not to touch the sides of the pot with the roll.  Add a towel to the top of the pot to catch any drops of water.  Rubber bands work for this. 

Steam for 30 minutes or more.  Your steamer should be above 200 degrees for the minimum 30 minutes.  212 degrees is optimum.

I had an accident at this point.  When I was checking the water level on the pot, I accidentally got the jellyroll wet.  That is okay just may have changed it a bit.

Shake pot gently to check the water level.  If you think you need more water have some already boiling to add.


When it's done steaming, rinse the scarf in cold water.  I do one cold water rinse followed by two warm water rinses then   wash again in Orvus.

After the final wash and rinse, I take the wet scarf right to the ironing board and iron.  There's another thing that makes people nervous.  My iron is on the hottest setting so it has to keep moving. 

I also use the Jacquard dye set to set the dye.  Steaming is cheaper and really easy. More on the dye set later.  Find it here:




That is all there is to it.  You can do it! From set up to clean up, with pictures, fussing on the scarf and a few notes, this one took me almost two hours.  Click the picture for large version of the finished scarf. 


Nothing shimmers quite like silk and the Jacquard dyes are awesome!


They leave no "feel" what so ever.  I do use the Jacquard paints as well.  They are easier and make for a beautiful scarf  but without the shimmer and shine.  The paints can also change the feel some. 

Now go try one!



Click on picture for larger view.

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