Rainbow Tie-Dye Silk Wrap




Introduction: Rainbow Tie-Dye Silk Wrap

About: Fiber mad woman living in the mountains. Creativity is the ultimate rebellion.Trying to Roller Derby for my life. I'm into sericulture and hypertufa. Love fiber arts, sewing, quilting, cooking, writing. Some o…

Rainbow tie-dye silk wrap project! A simple way to make something especially nice. Where else can you get tied up in knots, dyed, put in hot water, coming out even more beautiful than before!? Right here!

This simple technique can be used to dye silk blanks, clothing, scarves, handkerchiefs, skeins, yardage, silk socks or undergarments. The results are beautiful every time! All you need are a few minutes of your time, some simple equipment (you probably already have in your kitchen), dye of choice and silk blanks.

I get my supplies and blanks from Dharma Trading Co. A lot of the stuff I make, I couldn't do without this resource for my equipment. I'm not a paid spokesperson, just a satisfied customer! I have increased my creativity in ways I never would have been able to before having Dharma as my go-to supplier. Check them out for project ideas, inspiration and product.

Step 1: Choose Your Dye

For this project, I am using powdered drink mix as dyes.They are my favorite. I use to drink this stuff when I was a kid. I think this is a better use! I love them because-

  • They work well, have strong, vibrant colors
  • Are inexpensive to use and are readily available
  • Safe to use in your own kitchen cookware
  • Require no special additions or equipment.

Easter egg dyes or liquid food coloring can also be used just as easily.

Even though these are food safe, they will stain clothing, hands, counter tops-anything they come in contact with so use gloves and cover your work space with newsprint.

You may also like Jacquard silk dye or other products. Use as directed.

Step 2: Gather Everything Together

Gather the supplies

  • Microwave safe bowl
  • Colander or strainer
  • Wooden skewer
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Dye
  • White vinegar/spray bottle
  • Microwave
  • Drying rack or hanger
  • Silk or wool

You'll also need an iron and ironing board to complete your project.

Step 3: Prepare the Fabric

Wet the silk. Choose which tie-dye technique you want to try. Fold & tie as desired. I did it as simple as I gets and just tied knots in the piece in various places mirroring the knots on each side for a symmetrical design pattern. Alternately you can use rubber bands, thread, basting stitches, string, zip ties, twist ties or any folding and tying that you want to experiment with. There are so many techniques you can apply to make a design as intricate or simple as you desire. The folds will determine a geometric or other patterning. You can make horizontal lines, spirals, starburst, bulls-eye, all in how you fold the fabric! Get ready for a certain lovely outcome!

I'm dying a gorgeous half circle silk scarf/veil. I want to make a rainbow of color. I over dyed the whole piece in a light yellow before I tie-dyed it so I could have some beautiful color mixing and keep some pretty yellow details. You can use lightly colored fabrics or plain white, depending on the results you are trying to achieve.

You have ultimate control on how you want your piece to turn out by the different techniques used. Here I didn't wet the silk before I tied it for softer details. Wetting the fabric before folding, knotting or tying gives crisper detail. It's all a playground of creativity! Go wild! Make it up as you go! Use 2 or more techniques in one piece. It's all fair game!

Step 4: Choose Your Colors

Stage the colors you want to use. Have a bowl of hot water ready to put the silk in.

  • Lay out your wet, tied, folded silk on enough clear plastic wrap to roll it all the way up in
  • Sprinkle powdered drink mix or dye of choice on silk
  • The wet fabric causes the color to spread and makes beautiful color saturation variations with the powder dye
  • Flip piece as you sprinkle it to cover both sides, using one color at a time. Poke your fingers into the powdered dye and work it gently into the folds of the fabric. You can skip that part if you want. I have to get all the way in once I'm doing it so I go for it!
  • After all dye is applied, spray entire piece with full strength white vinegar, saturating everything thoroughly
  • Roll silk up in plastic wrap, loosely twisting the ends
  • Place into a large microwave safe bowl almost full of hot water. Place a plate on top of fabric to keep from floating too much. You can poke a toothpick or skewer into the plastic wrap to let air out if it puffs up while heating.

You'll want to leave clumps of dye powder on the fabric. These create super saturated blasts of color that you can't get with a regular dye bath. The depth and texture of the color is a marvel! See the pictures in my last step as illustration.

You never know how it turns out until it's all over! If you are nervous I recommend start using 2 complimentary colors of your choice. My piece here is starting out yellow, so I used blue, green, orange, and red. Rainbows are rad!

Step 5: The Heat Is On

Heat is the secret to bonding the dye to the silk fiber. Once it reaches temperature, the dye will not bleed, fade or migrate. This is a colorfast and permanent process. Using your microwave, in a matter of minutes, you will have a work of art.

Microwave silk in 1 minute intervals letting it rest for 30-40 seconds in between each minute for 5-7 minutes. You'll be able to tell when it's done by looking at it. You will see the fiber has taken up most of the dye. Cool on counter. When cooled to room temperature, cut off plastic wrap and run silk under lukewarm to cold water, briefly, to rinse. Drain. Don't wring. Gently remove knots you tied to reveal the pattern design on your project.

If you don't have or don't want to use a microwave, you can use a stove top dye bath or steamer. It will just take a little longer. Steam/simmer just below boiling point for 10-15 minutes, watching carefully. Remove from heat and let cool before revealing your design.

Dry on hangers or a drying rack. If you don't want to wait for it to hang dry, carefully iron with a hot iron. If you have any worries that your piece didn't heat up enough to bond the dye to the fiber, the iron will take care of any additional heat setting the dye would need to make it colorfast.

When I need to wash my silks, I use Eucalan wool and silk rinse.

Step 6: VOILA

You can use this method for all types of silk. The results are beautiful! Once you do it you'll want to make more. It's all an experiment! Give it a try! I've never made a piece that didn't turn out well. I've over dyed old silk shirts from the thrift store with great results.

Silk has natural sunscreen properties. And keeps you warm if it's cold or cool if it's warm. Nothing compares to the beauty of silk. I hope you are inspired to make your own wearable art! I'd love to see pictures of your work if you do!

Once it's made, the real fun begins. This can now be imagined as a cape for super hero, a blanket for a stuffed bunny, a reading time cover, a dancer's veil, a window cover, shawl, head wrap, a layer over a skirt... to twirl and cascade and flow, all the beauty, is as useful as the imagination will allow! Enjoy!

Dyeing for Color Contest

Fourth Prize in the
Dyeing for Color Contest

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

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    The Juliart
    The Juliart

    6 years ago

    You forgot smells great!!! Very nice look!


    7 years ago

    You have just made my day!!! I hate the idea of using nasty die chemicals, so anything I can do without chemicals is the way I want to go.That and it seems like they make dies as difficult as possible to understand.


    Reply 7 years ago

    YAY! I'm glad I could help! I hope you get a chance to try it out! It takes less then 10 minutes -it's practically instant gratification!

    I hear you! Dye mixing/mordants, all that, is intimidating! It breaks the creativity in my brain just thinking about thinking about it! lol!

    When I did my first Procion/cold water dye process, I was amazed it had to sit 12-24 hours before rinsing the dye. And pre-treatment with washing soda. It's worth the results but a piece of work, no doubt!

    I did get the indigo dye kit they have at Dharma and it contains everything you need except the 5 gallon bucket to mix everything in. It was a very satisfying dye process. I highly recommend it when you are ready to branch out. I like to focus on the art over the chemistry so any prepacked kits are definitely most welcome!

    I have recently begun using the Jacquard acid dye which only requires vinegar or citric acid to set the color. It's simple and beautiful to use.

    Focus on one type of fiber at at time-either protein (silk, wool, fur, feathers) or cellulose (cotton, rayon) to help simplify the process.

    Have fun! Thanks for the nice comment! OX