Make a hand-painted silk scarf

A hand painted scarf makes a pretty and personal gift. Or you can make one for yourself for a unique accent piece. Once you learn the process and have the materials, you can make DIY scarves for everyone on your gift list.

Here’s what you’ll need : A  plain white or cream-colored silk chiffon scarf,  fiber-reactive dyes. We used red, pink, orange, green, and black to make a colorful flower pattern. You”l also want to have on hand–paper cups, squeeze bottles, paintbrushes, and a special cleanser called Synthrapol. It helps set the dye so that your creation won’t run or fade.

Another option would be to buy a scarf  that is lightly colored–so that you can leave it as the background color. A soft pink or yellow would be a great selection. The colors of the dyes may look slightly different, but as long as you choose a light pastel color, the dyes should remain true to the colors you see in the bottle or jar.

First, wash the scarf by hand in cold water to remove any impurities that could interfere with the dyes. Wash with Synthrapol and allow the silk to air-dry.

If you are planning to make scarf-dyeing one of your regular DIY craft projects, you many want to invest in a wooden frame made just for dyeing. At this point you would stretch the dry silk on a wooden frame (made a little bigger than the silk) and pin it to the frame with three-prong silk tacks.

If not, you can just lay the scarf on a clean surface covered with paper towels or other absorbent paper. Mix the dyes according to the directions, and place each color in a paper cup.  Another technique is to fill some empty squeeze bottles with the fabric paint. If you are going to make an intricate design,  attach a small metal tip to each bottle to draw fine lines. We started with large flowers using bright red, orange and yellow colors. Then paint the stems and leaves on the scarf with the green colored dyes. You can also find colors that have a metallic sheen to them–these can add a special touch to your DIY painted scarf. Add some detail to the flowers and stems with the black paint. Your may want to use a bottle applicator with a tip for the fine lines.

At this point you can leave the background color of your hand-painted scarf as is, or paint a background color. Depending on your artistic abilities, this make be easier than it sounds–if you’re painting a design like flowers. If you’ve chosen an abstract or geometric design, painting a background color is a lot more forgiving.

2Make a hand-painted silk scarfAfter you’ve finished painting your scarf, place a piece of absorbent paper over the top of the scarf and roll the scarf between two layers of paper towels. Next, “heat-set ” the scarf  by placing the roll in a microwave oven set on “bake” for 4 minutes, taking the scarf out at two minutes to let it set, then let it dry completely.

Wash the scarf in Synthrapol, then place the scarf in the dryer by itself until dry. Iron your scarf on the “silk” setting and now you have a beautiful DIY hand-painted silk scarf!


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