Dyeing Some Silk

I am teaching a class next week and needed to dye some more silk for embellishment.

I had looked in my silk box to see what I had and I seem to have a lot of green and not much pink/purple.

I use a variation on the scrunch dying I use for the scarf blanks. I soak the silk in a little soapy water to get them properly wet before dying.

I use just enough fibre reactive dye to cover the silk. Then leave it for about an hour and put the PH up (sodium carbonate) in. I mix the PH up one tablespoon for each cup of water including the water I am mixing it in. Then I let it sit for a few hours.

One of the colours I wanted was a nice brown but when I rinsed it all the brown stayed in the water and I had purple. I haven’t had that happen before.

This is what they look like after rinsing and squeezing all the water out, they look a mess.

After they are dry, they fluff up some, but still not very nice looking

Next, you shake them out a bit and give them a tug along their length. Now they are pretty. again. Now I have a good variety for my students to choose from. The top one is the one that should have been brown.

I think I am just about ready for the class. Just some plastic to cut and pack it all up.




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21 Responses to Dyeing Some Silk

  1. jane dolan says:

    Lovely jewel colours, great explanation of your process. Thanks.

  2. Great tutorial Ann! The finished silk does look pretty – very strange about the brown though.

    • Thanks Lyn, It was very strange. I have never had it happen before. Perhaps it didn’t get enough ph up. Although you would think none of it would stick if that was the problem.

  3. Carol Tummon says:

    Hope you have a good class. I’ve never dyed silk so perhaps your dyeing session might serve as inspiration to at least give it a try. I have always thought dyeing silk was really a difficult process but it may not be as frightening as I think after reading your post today. Thanks very much for the inspiration.

  4. Susan says:

    I am sure you will have a great class. How strange about the brown dye.

  5. Lindsay says:

    Beautiful colours. Is the silk you start with the sort that’s readily available (eg from World of Wool?)

  6. Antje says:

    Great to see the colours you’ve achieved and to have the explanation. I’ve never dyed silk (or wool) before so would you kindly confirm my understanding…….

    You soak the silk in slightly soapy water (do you rinse this soapy water out?). Once thoroughly wet the silk is soaked in the fibre reactive dye for an hour (do you need to very ‘gently’ squish or agitate the silk into the dye, or does it take up the colour through to the centre without?) only after this hour do you add the sodium carbonate solution before leaving it all for several more hours. I assume you rinse in water (nothing added) until it runs clear.

    I am aware that silk and wool (being plant and protein) require different methods – you actually make dyeing silk sound easily achievable. Thank you.

    • The small amount of soap shouldn’t cause a problem. The soap is being used as a wetting agent in this case. silk is the only fibre you can dye with both the fibre reactive (cellulose fibre dye at room temperature) or acid dye (protein fibre dye that is heated). you rinse several times one with soap. Pop over to Paula Burches site. she has different ways of dying and explains all the parts and ingredients very well. http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/lowwaterimmersion.shtml

    • Antje says:

      Thanks for this Ruth.

    • Antje says:

      I should have said ‘thank you Ann’. I read the post name below and got carried away!

  7. ruthlane says:

    Great explanation! I have not dyed silk top for a long time. In the past, I have usually used acid dyes. Was the brown dye old? I have had weird results from old dye. Glad you are nearly ready for your class.

  8. Leonor says:

    Very pretty! I’d never seen silk dyed with fibre reactive dyes so I’ve learned some new stuff! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Leonor. I use the low water scrunch dye method to do my scarf blanks so I have the dye anyway. It is quick and easy partly because I don’t have to heat it and let it cool. I sometimes use acid dye when I am already dying wool.

  9. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Beautiful colors. I think you’ll be glad the brown turned purple. I’ve had that happen, but don’t remember if it was with fiberactive or not. I usually prefer acid especially for silk. Thanks for sharing the process. I hadn’t seen that before. Have a great class!

    • Thanks Marilyn. It’s a pretty colour but brown is nice too. Part of what I like about this is the silk doesn’t end up floating around and I make a mess of it.

  10. zedster66 says:

    Ooh, they’re gorgeous, Ann 🙂 It’s funny how ugly fibres get after dyeing isn’t it?! I was so disappointed when I first dyed lots of cellulose fibres and they were a mess, then happy after giving them a good shaking when dry.

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