I Want to Dye
August 14, 2017 6:06 AM   Subscribe

I received this gold silk scarf for my birthday. Alas, the dull gold colour doesn't suit me at all. Can I dye this scarf some other, more becoming and beautiful colour, and if so, how?

I've almost no experience with dyeing anything, so what I would like to know is:

-- Is it possible to dye this scarf? I'm terrified of ruining it.
-- What colours might I be limited to?
-- What colour dyes would I use to get turquoise? Rust? Old rose? Red?
-- What kind of dye should I use?
-- What process should I use?
posted by orange swan to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How to dye a silk scarf with acid dyes
How to dye a silk scarf in the microwave
Dyeing with Kool-Aid
Painting silk scarves.
Working with silk.

If you're terrified of ruining it, then don't dye it, because if you want to dye it, it's going to be a gamble. Unless you dye it in some really weak way, it's going to change and ...well, who knows. Everything I say here is conjecture because to some degree with dye, WHO THE HELL KNOWS. I've done various kinds of dyeing, but on white fabric or yarn or roving.

I love procion and would recommend those because you're going to need something strong that covers up the gold. If you aren't concerned with painting or tie-dyeing, you could probably just dip the scarf or squirt color directly onto it very thoroughly.

If it were me, I think I'd try to dye it a warmer color to kind of "go" with the gold, mostly because hell if I know how it would go if you try to dye it something out of the related color family. While turquoise dye exists in procion by itself and usually looks lovely on white fabric, I strongly suspect it's not going to look great dyed over gold. I suspect it would look pretty terrible, actually, probably come out "burned" looking. I haven't been able to find anything online about specifically covering up the color of an already dyed scarf (except for one WaPo article about how Hermes does it, but they didn't specify how they did it), so I think that is a whopping "proceed with caution" if you try it sort of thing.

At the very least, if your heart is absolutely set on this, I'd try to practice on white scarves before you go whole hog.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:40 AM on August 14, 2017

I think if you added light to medium blue to that color, you would end up with something between turquoise and olive green, but as jenfullmoon says, no one can say for sure. Blue dye is often very dark, so use a light touch. Then if you did not like that, you could try for a dark brown.
posted by soelo at 7:22 AM on August 14, 2017

Fiber first: you can dye silk. Just make sure you have the right kind of dye - that makes all the difference. Different dye techniques work best with different fibers.

As for "what color" - I would just go to an art supply store and talk to someone there. A smaller more specialized one, though, not a Michaels or Joann's or other big-box place; when I have more specialized questions, I talk to the staff at the art supply shop that's near an art and design school in my neighborhood. It's staffed by art students for the most part and they know their shit. They can help you figure out what colors would work best.

Finally - there's a form of tie-dying that may work well with that. Shibori dyeing is a Japanese form of tie-dye that's a little more precise than what you remember from summer camp; usually it's white fabric and indigo dye and you've probably seen a buttload of the blue-and-white dyed fabrics all over the place, especially in summer. But it's pretty simple and the techniques can be used for other types of dying, of course. I'd have a look at the technique where you take a small round object, like a bead, and bundle it up in a section of the fabric and tie a string around the bundle to keep it in place; that makes a small sort of bulls-eye on the fabric when you dye it and take it out. Dying the whole thing, but making a couple rows or a scattering of those bulls-eyes on the ends of the scarf, could be really nice.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on August 14, 2017

From gold, which is a dark yellow, you can easily go to brown, green, or orange, which I presume would be a favorite. Silk is chemically very different than wool or cotton, and tales color well. It's generally more difficult to get bright clear colors when overdyeing. You could use Rit; it works and is easily available. That Rit color library for fabric is pretty handy. Or get silk-specific dyes from Dharma Trading. They have lots of how-tos.
posted by theora55 at 7:59 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

While you are on the Dharma site, you might also look at discharge techniques. This is a total gamble (I'd test a corner before you commit the whole scarf) that might let you ultimately get to a turquoise color (as opposed to gold with turquoise overdye).
posted by janell at 10:52 AM on August 14, 2017

Rit is a union dye: both acid and fiber reactive components, so it is supposed to work on both protein fibers (like your silk) and cellulose fibers (like cotton). It tends to be not enough of either, in my experience, and on silk, the fiber reactive component won't necessarily be true to the label. I would go with an acid dye, Jacquard or Lanaset from Dharma probably. You'll need to use hot water, but this is fine; silk likes heat, it brings out the shine. For the most predictable results, and a color that's likely to be nice over the dull gold, I would try a deep red.

Kool-Aid dye, incidentally, is not lightfast -- in direct sunlight it'll fade in a couple of hours. (Source for all of the above: took a silk dyeing class once and saw samples.)
posted by clavicle at 11:48 AM on August 14, 2017

You can totally dye that scarf. If you use a color remover first, you can dye it literally any color you want. Use procion dyes, as jennfullmoon suggests.

Go to Dharma Trading and browse colors for silk fabric. They also have all the other supplies you will need to make it dye evenly and colorfast. They have great tutorials on the site, but if you're confused *call them* -- they are SO NICE and really helpful.
posted by ananci at 12:10 PM on August 14, 2017

Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing

Don't use Rit—she explains why.
posted by lagomorph at 3:24 PM on August 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

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