Dyeing Silk Scarves in the Microwave

by Meta Heemskerk

 This is a quick and easy way of making a beautiful silk scarf. What you’ll need:

- white silk scarf

- Procion MX powder dyes

- white vinegar

- small plastic container

- plastic zipper bag

- plastic wrap

- lukewarm water

- measuring cup

- plastic spoon

- rubber gloves

Step 1

Mixing the dyes

Be careful when handling dye powder, wear rubber gloves and a dust mask to be sure you don’t inhale any of the powder.

Use 100 ml of lukewarm water to mix the dye.

Put a teaspoon of dye powder in a cup and add a little bit of the water. Stir well, then add the rest of the water. Make sure there are no lumps left, as they can cause dark spots to appear on your scarf.

Repeat this for all of your dye colors.

Step 2

Place the scarf in the plastic container, either crumpled up, folded or knotted to get a sort of shibori effect.

Pour enough vinegar over the scarf to completely saturate it.

Step 3

Add the dye solution, using a squeeze bottle or a plastic spoon.

Press the scarf a little with your gloved hand to avoid any white bits.

Step 4

Cover the container with a piece of plastic wrap (not air tight) and place it in the microwave. Set the timer for three minutes. Make sure the scarf doesn’t dry out!

Step 5

When finished, carefully take out the container (it’s very hot!) and put it in the sink. Rinse the scarf under running water until the water runs clear.

If there are no white bits left you can wash your scarf in a mild detergent and iron it while still damp.

Step 6

In the case where you have folded or knotted the scarf, there will be a lot of white in it. You can leave it like this if you like those white bits. I prefer to overdye the scarf in a plastic bag, using lighter colors. Here is how I do it:

To Overdye

Put the scarf in a plastic zipper bag, add vinegar and a light color dye and squeeze the bag to make sure the entire scarf is saturated with vinegar and dye. Put the bag in the microwave for three minutes. Finish the scarf as in Step 5.

Of course you can also work in a different order. First dye the scarf in a zipper bag with a light color, then overdye with more colors in a plastic container. If you know your color theory you’ll know what sort of effect you’ll get, but there’s also a lot of serendipity with this way of dyeing, which I love!