Introduction: Tie-Dye Rainbow Chakra Scarf

Tie-dye is a fun way to show your colors! Although many associate Tie-dye with the 60's, the art and traditions of creating patterns in fabric by tying it different ways, goes back to Shibori in ancient Japan.

This tutorial will show how to create a pattern of circles, each in a color from the rainbow. This technique is also referred to as Kanoko Shibori, a specific style of Shibori.

Here is a list of what you will need to create your own rainbow chakra silk scarf:


  • 11 inch x 60 inch silk scarf *
  • Artificial suet*, or sturdy string (for tying)
  • Reactive dye pigments* in the following colors-
    1. # 44 Better Black
    2. # 9 Scarlet
    3. # 3 Golden Yellow
    4. # 25 Turquoise
    5. # 22 Cobalt Blue
  • Soda Ash*
  • Urea*
  • washable or disappearing marker
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic trash bags
  • nitrile gloves
  • squeeze bottles*
  • 2.5 or 5 gallon bucket
  • lots of water!

*NOTE: I got all of my dye materials from Dharma; they are a great resource for fabrics, and dye supplies. This time of year, you can often find dye kits/supplies in your local craft store or mega-store.

Step 1: Mark Your Circles

Using a washable or disappearing marker, mark seven evenly spaced circles on the length of your silk scarf. My circles were about 5 inches in diameter each.

Step 2: Wrap Each Circle

Cut seven lengths of artificial suet or sturdy thread, about 2 feet each.

For each circle marked, you will pinch the center of the circle with your fingers.

Find the edge of the circle's circumference by looking for the marks you made with your marker. Now run your fingers down to pinch at this line. This is where you begin to wrap the area you have pinched up.

Begin wrapping by using the middle of the thread or suet around the marked area, and then criss-crossing the thread over and under the fabric, until you reach the tip.

At this point it may seem you have wrapped the thread tightly enough. However, you can tighten it more. While continuing to pinch the tip of the fabric and the two ends of thread, slow pull on one the ends of thread, until the fabric begins to scrunch up. repeat for the other piece of thread.

Now tie your thread in an over hand knot

Step 3: "Is It Supposed to Look Like This?"


Once you have all seven circles pinched and wrapped, it will look a bit like a frilly, salt water sea-slug.

That's a good thing for us!

Step 4: Now It's Time to Start Getting Messy!

Once you have tied up all of your projects to dye, (don't forget this dye and technique works great on cotton!) you can set up your dying station:

I like to use a plastic table on the side porch, lined with plastic trash bags. (white trash bags are easier to see what you are doing, while working.)

Where ever you chose, make sure to have access to a water spigot or hose. (and remember dye does stain concrete!)

In your bucket, mix up the soda ash according to the directions on the package.

In each of your squeeze bottle, mix your dye and urea with water, according to the amounts suggested in the directions or here.

Be sure to use gloves on your hands and have protection from splashes on your eye. Be very careful with the dye powders - wear a mask to prevent breathing them in!

NOW, you can dip your scarf into the soda ash solution, saturate it, and squeeze the extra out.

Place the scarf on a plastic bag, with the points all pointing up and the rest of the scarf arranged as tidy as you can get it it. This will help keep the color where it belongs.

Step 5: Start With Red and Yellow...

The first point you will saturate with the scarlet dye, until it reaches the edge of where you tied it.

The second point, you will also use the scarlet dye on, but not quite as much.

Using the yellow dye, go over the scarlet area on the second point. Together, red and yellow make orange! If the orange doesn't look quite right, alternate a couple of drops each of red and yellow until it does. Paper towels will help here to prevent drips from getting out of hand or color running where it shouldn't.

The third and fourth points will be dyed yellow.

Step 6: Yellow and Blue...

On the previous step, both the third and fourth points were dyed yellow.

Now, use the turquoise on the fourth point to make the point green. Just as you did on the orange, alternate using a little of both yellow and blue to make the green just right.

On the fifth point use turquoise.

On the sixth point use cobalt blue for indigo.

Finally, for the seventh point use grape purple for violet.

Make sure all of your points are still pointing up!

Step 7:

For the edges of the silk scarf we are going to use the better black. Remember that reactive dyes do not color the same on silk as they do on cotton: especially black!

For this project we not only know it won't dye a true black, we are actually counting on it! Better Black tends to separate into purpley/red colors, and this technique takes advantage of that effect.

Using your squirt bottle, carefully let the tip of the applicator touch just the edges of the silk scarf, and allow wicking action to let the dye spread.

Everywhere the silk is touching the plastic bag or has a wrinkle, it will look darker, as the dye pools heavier in those areas at the edges. For this project, that is exactly what we want!

Step 8: Carefully Wrap It Up

Here is where using a plastic trash bag underneath comes in extra handy!

Carefully take the edges of the plastic bag, and fold them up to the edges of the points.

Make sure the points are still pointing up and are prevented from touching the rest of the silk fabric.

Then use another piece of plastic or the rest of the bag (if you have enough) to cover the points.

Just be sure not to disturb the dye applied in the previous step.

And the hardest part: wait about 8-12 hours.

So here is where you just walk away! Go find another project from here to try out in the meantime!

Step 9:

Once your project has sat for several hours you will rinse it really well with a hose and plenty of water. Once it no longer runs colors, untie your scarf and rinse it some more!

Toss it in the wash with the rest of your tie dye (you didn't do just one did you!!!???) and run it through a cycle with just water.

Shake it out and toss in the dryer for a few minutes to take the wet edge off of it.

Press dry and enjoy! YAY!!!

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