How to Dye Silk in a Microwave

There are many ways to dye silk. This particular method involves soaking the silk in a vinegar solution before applying the dye, but it'll need heat in order to "set" the colors. That's where your microwave comes in!


  1. Image titled Dye Silk in a Microwave Step 1
    Gather your supplies together. See "Things You'll Need" below.
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    Make a pre-soaking solution from the vinegar and the water. Measure 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar: Take your silk thing and soak it in that solution for 15 minutes. Make sure that it’s completely soaked through.
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    Mix your colors using the acid dyes. These dyes come very concentrated so you can dilute them and mix them together to make nifty colors by using the diluted solution of the alcohol and the distilled water. Mix 2/3rds of a cup isopropyl alcohol (70%) with 1/3rd cup of distilled water to make the solution. This will keep your dyes from streaking too much.
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    Once you have your colors ready and your silk piece is soaked you can start! Take the silk out of the vinegar solution and squeeze out the excess. Don’t wring it to much or you’ll damage it and it should be still very wet when you microwave it or it will burn. Place it in the microwave dish.
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    Apply your color. There are many ways to do this and you can use a brush to paint it on or just pour it on wherever you want it. Sometimes you can get vague patterns that you can brush on. You won’t get much detail. Make sure your colors are contrasted enough for this or they will just meld into each other and you won’t see the pattern. You can also use elastic bands or string to do a tie dye type design.
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    Wrap dish in plastic wrap and place in microwave and cook for 2 or 3 minutes on high. Two minutes is plenty if you are only doing one scarf and have a powerful microwave. You’ll know if it’s not done enough if when you rinse it out, all the dye comes out. There shouldn’t be too much dye run off.
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    Rinse and wash scarf in mild detergent until water runs clear. Add a bit of vinegar to the second last rinse just to balance out the PH at the end. Iron or hang to dry.
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    You can stop here or add some more design elements. This step will show you how to add some basic shapes to make your scarf more interesting. Place the scarf back into the vinegar solution and squeeze out excess as before and then lay out your scarf (you can fold it in half to make it easier) on a sheet of wax paper on a counter or other clean washable surface. Dye will get on your counter top but this easily washes off with the help of a household cleaner containing bleach. Then, using a very dark color or at least one that contrasts well with the other colors, paint on some basic shapes.
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    Roll the painted scarf in some saran wrap and microwave as before. Wash, rinse and dry as before. Voila! A beautiful scarf to wear in many ways!
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  • If your fabric is not wet enough when it goes into the microwave, it will burn.

Things You'll Need

  • Microwave
  • Microwave dish
  • Saran wrap
  • Silk piece of material or scarf
  • Acid dyes – Pebeo Soie or other.
  • String and/or rubber bands
  • Latex gloves
  • Vinegar
  • Plastic tub or bin to pre-soak your piece in the vinegar
  • Brushes
  • Isopropyl alcohol – 70%
  • Distilled Water
  • Old Towel
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Plastic containers to mix dye in
  • Paper Towels

Sources and Citations

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