Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Washing and Ironing Hand Painted Silk Scarves

I was busy today doing the washing and the ironing. Sounds awfully domestic, doesn't it? Except, what I was doing was the finishing work on the batch of hand painted silk scarves that I've been working on. They've been pre-washed, then dyed, then steamed. One last bit of work, and they are all set to go.

When the scarves come out of the steamer, they are kind of cracky-crinkly (Yes, that is the technical term. At least it is now.), and still have bits of salt on them. They're pretty, but don't have that lovely flowing and shining texture that you expect from silk.
So, the next step is to wash the scarves. I put them into lingerie bags to keep them from tangling too badly in the wash. (I learned that one the hard way.) I don't put more than 3 or 4 scarves in a bag, and try to put like colors together on the off chance that the dyes run into each other.
This stuff helps keep the excess dyes from transferring to the silk. You can also use Synthropol. I put in about 1/4 cup for the wash load. The washer is on hot, and is set to the delicate cycle.
You can see how quickly the excess dye that didn't bond to the silk ends up in the wash water.
I wash the scarves twice for good measure. However, this is the same point in the wash cycle as the previous picture. You can see that there is almost no excess dye in the water--which means no dye coming off onto your skin. This is a good thing!
This is why I put the scarves in the bags. They still managed to tangle themselves up! But untangling 3 or 4 scarves is simple compared to trying to figure out a wound up ball of 12. Trust me on this.
I want to avoid wrinkles setting themselves in the silk while I'm getting ready to do the ironing, so I hang up each scarf.
While the scarves are damp but not soaking wet, I iron them dry. You can see what a difference that makes!
The beautiful sheen and flowing hand of the silk finally shines through.

I'm in the process of taking pictures of the scarves, so I can get them listed in the Etsy shop. I tried it today, but only got through a half dozen scarves before I gave up. These are lovely, light weight scarves that dance and billow in the slightest breath of a breeze...and today was windy. Boy, it was hard to get pictures when the danged scarves wouldn't stay put!



From here on out, I hand wash the scarves in cool water, and iron them dry again.

You can see the earlier parts of this project in these two posts:

Painting: http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2011/03/tutorial-silk-scarf-painting.html

Steaming: http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2011/03/tutorial-steaming-silk-scarves.html


  1. Those are really pretty. I've been considering getting a kit so I can learn to make them.

  2. Very pretty! I sat next to a girl who made these at an art show last year. She paited them right there in her booth. Super cool.

  3. Wow, your scarves are phenomenal. Thanks for the tutorial, what a fun summer project for my daughter and me!

  4. Thanks, everyone! They are such fun to make. If you'd like to give it a try, I get my materials at http://www.dharmatrading.com/ . You can see the earlier parts of this project in these two posts:

    Painting: http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2011/03/tutorial-silk-scarf-painting.html

    Steaming: http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2011/03/tutorial-steaming-silk-scarves.html

    I'd love to see pictures of what you come up with!

    1. Thanks for posting. After steaming I find peper stuck on to the guta line. how do you get them off?

    2. I haven't been using guta on these, so I'm not sure.

  5. Beautiful scarves! I especially like the sea and olive one! On a windy day you might get a great shot of flying scarves! Good for a blog post; not so much for your shop :D

  6. Those are so beautiful! I love the pink one.

  7. What beatuiful colors the scarves are! My daughter brought me a silk scarf from China and it's still in the original package because I'm afraid to ruin it!

  8. Thanks! And Sarah, I'm picturing all of my scarves flying around in a dust devil now. Wheee! Around and up they go! (Actually, I've seen the silk scarves painted up to be Medieval heraldic banners, and they do wave beautifully as a flag in the breeze.)

    Sher, maybe you could frame the scarf from China and display it on the wall instead? Then it would be protected, but you could still enjoy the gift.

  9. Hi Melissa,
    This is a great post. I just referenced you in one of my blogs with attribution back here.
    Also referred to you on Http://silkpaintingnetwork.com
    Warm regards,
    Francine Dufour Jones

  10. Thank you, Francine! I appreciate you stopping by.

  11. Hi, Thank you for the step by step instructions. I am a beginner at making scarves and I can't iron the wrinkles out of the 2 scarves that I just dyed. I wonder if I stretched the scarf too tight, or if I wrapped the silk scarf too tight in the steamer, because I've ironed the damp scarves twice now, and the wrinkles are still present. Any ideas?! Thanks!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your acquired wisdom! Your scarves are gorgeous. I'm puzzled about how to keep the squiggly dark lines next to the hems from forming. Sometimes they're great; other times not. And suggestions? Thank you!