DIY Dip Dyed Scarf

The change of seasons may make some Chicagoans run for their coziest sweater, but at One Strange Bird we're celebrating with new classes. Last Sunday we had our first Dip Dyed Scarf class run by teaching artist Jessica Egan. This technique is so fun and versatile that we thought we should share it with you! Follow along with our step by step process to make your own scarf at home, or be inspired to join us for the next Dip Dyed Scarf Class in September!


Artist and One Strange Bird teacher Ashley Ingold models one of the scarves.


STEP ONE: Gather your materials 

This project is great because you don't need too many materials. Almost all of them are easy to find and affordable.

You will need:  -Dye, either Rit Dye or Jacquard work well. We will be using Rit dye for this demo. (I prefer Rit because it is versatile and you don't have to wait as long between dips. Also, with Jacquard dyes you need to buy a fixative. However, if you want to paint your colors, Jacquard is the way to go.) -Salt (Morton's or sea salt will do) -Vinegar -Dye pots (label these when you use them "Dye only," they can no longer be used for cooking food) -Silk scarves (we used Jacquard brand, which are 100% Chinese silk. The measurements were 15 x 60 or 14 x 72) -Wax crayons for decoration -Twine or rubber bands -Access to hot water

Where we got our materials: Most of our materials we obtained for either our friends at Artists & Craftsman Supply (scarves, wax crayons, twine) or Joanne fabrics (Rit or Jacquard dyes).


STEP TWO: Set up your workspace

If you choose to use the Rit dye, you will need access to hot water. You can do all your dying on your kitchen stove, but if you have a small kitchen, things will get crowded very quickly. Instead, use an electric kettle to boil your water, that way you can work in a studio or even outside! If you are working on a table remember to put down canvas so your table doesn't get stained.

STEP THREE: Set up your dye pot 

To set up your dye pot you will first need a few pots. Use one pot per color, unless you are sure you want a certain shade of a secondary color. Again, once you have used this pots for dye, you can no longer use them to cook with, so clearly label them "Dye Pot: Not Food Safe!" Then you want to decide what colors you want to use; we chose all primary colors, plus pink! I like using the primary colors because then I can dip my scarf twice and make any secondary color (orange, green, or purple.)  Rit dyes are very concentrated, so you can use a 1:8 ratio or dye and hot water. The more dye you add to your pot, the more concentrated your color will be.

Once you have your dye and water, you need to add a fixative (this is what keep the color on the scarf, even after being rinsed out!) If you are dying silk, use a vinegar fixative (about 2 tbsp) if you are using cotton, use salt (about 2 tbsp.)


STEP FOUR: Make Some Samples

Use squares of cotton fabric to make some test samples. Using cotton will let you explore different color combinations or decorative treatments, but on a less expensive fabric than silk. However, it is good to keep in mind that the colors on silk are much more vibrant than on cotton.

Before you start playing, dampen your scarf  in clean water. Next you can decide what colors you want to use. The longer you leave fabric in a dye pot, the darker it will become. With Rit dye, even 30 seconds will give you a nice light color. Once you have obtained the color you like, rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.

If you want to blend colors, it works best to do the lighter color first (for example, if you are trying to make green, dip in yellow, rinse under cold water, then dip in blue, then rinse again.)

STEP FIVE: Explore different decorative techniques


Wax Crayon: 

Wax crayons are a great way to add a graphic pattern to your scarf. Draw your design on a piece of paper with a dark pencil or sharpie, then lay your dry fabric on top of the paper and trace the design with the wax crayon (this way you aren't drawing with white crayon on white fabric.) Next, dip the fabric in the dye pot. The wax will resist the dye and stay white and all the other areas will have color.

Tie Dye: 

Just like when you were a kid, tie dye adds fun and funky patterns to your fabric. Play around with different ways to tie the string or rubber bands. Where there is a rubber band, there will not be any dye. If you want to get really creative. Dip the fabric in one color, then add rubber bands, then dip again.



To create the popular ombre dyed effect do a quick dip of your fabric in one color, then rinse under cold water. Then, put it back in the same color, but only the lower half. Leave the fabric in longer than the first dip, then rinse. You can continue doing this for longer and longer to create a beautiful gradient effect.

STEP SIX: Dye your silk scarf!

It may be hard to commit to a color combo, but once you find the one that works for you, it will be hard to wait until you finish your final scarf and can wear it.

Once you are completely finished, rinse under cold water until all colors run clean. You don't need to wash your scarf after, it will be ready to wear once it is dry. Do not machine wash the scarf. It is best to hand wash or dry clean.

Check out some samples from our class below:  DSCN0877DSCN0879

DSCN0884Feel free to comment with any questions or join us for Dip Dyed Scarves Sunday, September 15th, from 3:00-5:00pm.

Sign up for Dip Dyed Scarf in September By Clicking Below: One Strange Bird