Tie-Dye Crystalline Scarf

Posted by on


Make a tie-dye scarf! This technique, called space dyeing or low-water immersion dyeing, has the look of marbling (an incredibly difficult technique), but is much easier to do. You don’t even need rubber bands—just scrunch up your scarf and pour dye over it. The variation in the depth of the color comes from the valleys of the fabric folds sitting in a puddle of dye while the peaks rise above.
Tools + Materials
- White silk scarf
- Soda ash
- Bucket
- 3–5 colors of fiber-reactive dye
- 3–5 squeeze bottles
- Shallow container
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Funnels
- Whisk

Step 1

Setting Up
Read through the project materials list and set up your space so everything is ready for use. Once you begin the process it’s hard to stop and get things you forgot (at least without leaving a trail of dye through your house!). You may want to use newspaper instead of a towel on the flat surface you are using unless you feel like tie dyeing a towel as well!

Step 2

Prep the Fabric for Dyeing
Wash your fabric before dyeing to remove fabric sizing (the chemicals left on the fabric from
manufacturing) and any grease or dirt that may be on the fabric. This will ensure even coverage
of dye. TIP: Of course, since you’re tie-dyeing, you may not care if your colors are even, so wash or don’t wash—-it’s your call. While it’s not always necessary, you will find that certain fabrics do benefit from it, like canvas, anything feeling obviously starchy, or old clothes that might need a good cleaning.

Step 3

Soda Ash Pre-soak: For bright true colors, add 1 cup (250 ml) of soda ash to 1 gallon (4 l) of water. Although the soda ash doesn’t require heat to be activated, you will find it is easier to melt the powder in warm water. Always add the soda ash to the water to avoid clumping, not the other way around, and stir vigorously as you add it. Soak the fabric in the soda ash for 30 minutes. As little as 5 minutes will work, but this will yield subtler colors. If you are using a delicate fabric like silk, a shorter pre-soak might be a good idea. Wring out the excess liquid so the fabric is damp, but not dripping.

Tip: A gallon will soak around ten T-shirts, and you can multiply the recipe for as much pre-soak solution as you need. It’s okay if the garments are crammed tightly together; just make sure that all of the fabric is fully saturated. Presoak the scarf in soda ash for 30 minutes and wring out.

Step 4

Prep and Mix the Dyes
While the scarf is soaking, mix each dye color in an individual squeeze bottle, using the calculations for direct application. Mix the dyes using either your chemical water or room-temperature tap water. Spoon the powder into the bottle through a dry funnel, add a small amount of water, replace the lid, and shake vigorously. Fill the bottle with the remainder of the water and shake again. Mixing calculations will vary based on the color, its chemical makeup, and the manufacturer, so read the instructions that come with your dye. Also, when using darker colors it may be necessary to increase the amount of dye powder. Feel free to mix and match your own colors and tints, or make pastels by using less dye powder. Precise measurements aren’t always necessary with so many unpredictable variables; however, I like to keep track of my measurements in case I want to try to replicate results in the future. I typically use 1/2 cup water to 1 tsp dye powder for 1 scarf. (So, 1 cup water to 2 tsp dye powder for 2 scarves, etc.)

Step 5

Scrunch the scarf in one loose layer inside a shallow container so that the fabric is crumpled but not folded over entirely.

Step 6

Remove the nozzles of the squeeze bottles and pour the dye over large swaths of the fabric. Apply the dye one color at a time, overlapping in some areas. For another effect, try sprinkling rock salt on top of your fabric as you apply the dye. The salt will attract the moisture and create interesting patterns.

Step 7

Cure and Reveal
Wait 1 hour. If you prefer, you can cover the scarf loosely with plastic and leave it for up to 24 hours; the longer you wait, the more the colors will blend together. Rinse and wash as usual.

Step 8

This tie-dye scarf how-to is excerpted with permission from "Tie-Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It" by Shabd Simon-Alexander and published by Potter Craft.

Log-in to Post a Comment: Craftfoxes shadow Google shadow