Did you know that you can print on silk with silk ties? That’s right, it’s possible to transfer the dyed design on a silk tie to another piece of silk. This is an inexpensive way to make a very beautiful, expensive looking scarf, decorative pillow or wallhanging. Printed scarves also make great gifts so cook up a bunch of them and give them to your friends for Christmas or Birthdays. Printing with silk ties works on all different kinds of silk, just make sure it’s 100% silk and not a silk blend.
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– 100% Silk Ties (cheap at your local thrift store)
– 100% Silk Scarf or Fabric
– Fabric such as an old sheet slightly larger than your silk fabric
– Old Pot (not used for cooking)*
*Safety note: Just like with chemical dyeing, once you use a pot for this silk printing process, it will no longer be safe to use for food prep.
Check the label on your ties and make sure it says “100% Silk”!
The white and black pieces are Silk Chiffon which is an open weave fabric. Either works well although the print shows up much better on the Habotai Silk. The black piece I used just as an experiment to see if the print would show. It didn’t so I recommend using white or light to medium color silk for this technique. Just make sure the scarf or fabric is 100% Silk or this won’t work.
Laying Out The Ties:
Now, you have two options:
1. Cover the entire scarf with the ties. With this method, you only use one side of each tie so you can open up the backs to have more dyeing surface and different shapes.
2. This is the one I used: Cover only half of the fabric with the ties. Cut the length of each tie but leave the backs intact. This way you can print from the front and the back of the ties.
Cut up the silk ties (I know, this kinda hurts). Think about the design you’re trying to create. You can use a bunch of smaller pieces for a mosaic-like affect or you can lay them out in long strips. I chose to cut my ties a bit longer than the width of the scarf to lay them out crosswise.
Place the plain fabric or old sheet (slightly larger than the silk) on a table. Mark the middle point of the silk scarf (by folding in half) and put the silk scarf on top of the old sheet.
Now, you will lay the ties on the silk scarf/fabric but only to the halfway mark. Lengthwise, diagonally, in patches … the design is completely up to you.
Once you’ve covered half of the scarf/fabric, fold the other half over so it lays on the backs of the ties. Now, fold over the underlying fabric.
Beginning at one end, slowly and tightly roll up all of the layers.
Secure your roll with 4 or 5 pieces of string, tied snugly to keep the fabric layers from moving around.
Setting The Print:
Add 2-3 inches of water to the pot, make sure it’s enough to cover the roll. Bring the water to a boil. Turn your heat to medium and carefully place your roll in the water. Push it down with an old spoon if you need to.
Simmer the package for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool. If you’re impatient like me, you can remove the rolled silk from the water so it will cool faster.
Once cooled, unroll and remove your little piece of art! Rinse gently, then hang the silk scarf to dry. Care instructions are just like any other silk. Hand wash and iron if necessary.
Here is the blue habotai scarf printed with the silk ties.
This is the piece of white silk chiffon. It printed great but is more muted due to the fact that silk chiffon is a very open, light weave.
I hope you give this fun printing with silk ties technique a try. Go pick out some beautiful silk ties and make yourself a one-of-a-kind, gorgeous printed scarf!
What do you think? Would you try printing with silk ties?