How to Create a Beautiful Designer Silk Scarf Using Your Microwave

That’s quite an odd title coming from me, isn’t it? If you’ve been following a lot of my writing here and on other sites, you’ll know that I’m a real believer in good quality steaming for silk painting. But….in view of the fact that not everyone has the time, space and funds for this whole process, I thought I would share with you some of my escapades with microwaving. So here’s how I’ve been doing it.

The first problem I had with microwaving was that I didn’t own a microwave oven. I’m not going into the details here, but I prefer to cook all my food by conventional means. Okay, so that meant I had to go off to Morrisson’s and luckily they had a really basic model which suited my needs. Two dials for timing and heat. That’s all you need for what I’m going to share with you.

Materials for microwaving a silk scarf

You’re also going to need some silk dyes, remember, the ones that are specifically for steam fixing. Not the paints which you set by heat. Read the labels on the bottles if you are unsure, or ask the shop assistant for help. You’ll also need a plain white scarf with rolled edges that you can add the dyes to.

Before you start you’ll need to get a bowl, add a mixture of 2 parts water and one part vinegar, then soak your silk scarf in this for at least 15 minutes. This will improve the dying process and ensure you get lovely bright colours that last.

You then take the silk out of the bowl, squeeze it out gently and lay it out on a surface covered with plastic sheeting. Have the dyes and brushes you’d like to use at hand, and you’re ready to go.

Tie some knots into the wet silk

There is one other thing I need to point out – you will get very messy hands doing this unless you put on some rubber gloves. Which I never do, but I’m passing on this tip to you if you don’t want to run around with ghoulish fingers and nails for the next few days. 🙂

What you do next is completely up to your own imagination. You are going to start adding dyes to your heart’s content. Pick a nice colour range that would suit you and this will ensure the colours don’t clash. Splash them on with big brushes randomly. Or you can scrunch the silk up and dribble the dyes into the silk. Or what about folding it up and then painting the colours on in patterns? The example I’ve shown here is tying loose knots in the silk before applying the dye. The good news is that I’m in the process of putting together a video we took of me demonstrating this technique at a fair back in the summer, so you can copy what I did to get you started, if you like.

The important thing is that you keep the silk nice and wet so that you can properly ‘cook’ it afterwards.

Place the silk scarf in the bowl ready to microwave

Right, now you’re going to lift your silk and place it into a microwaveable dish. Don’t worry if the silk gets a little scrunched here too as your finished scarf will have an abstract pattern to it anyway. What I do next is get a piece of clingfilm and stretch this over the dish – I think it’s called Saran wrap in the USA (that’ll save a few emails).  One thing you need to do at this point is prick a hole in the foil. And if you don’t do this? The foil will bulge up and may explode….making a bit of a mess.

Now we’re going to place the covered dish in the microwave for 5 minutes at a medium-high setting.

Use this time to go back and wipe your plastic covered surface clean. The last thing you want is to have dye spillage messing up your finished scarf. Or you can just lift the sheeting to one side and put it out of harm’s reach. This may sound like Kindergarten stuff, but it’s one of the main causes of people messing up their lovely silks after all the work is done. So, I just thought I’d throw it in again here.

Finished effect of tying knots in the silk scarf

Right, the 5 minutes are up, so remember to use some sort of cloth or glove to lift out the hot dish. Carefully remove the foil and lift out the wet scarf.

Yes, it will still be totally wet at this point but the dye is fixed so the wetness only comes from water.

Now all that is left for you to do is hang up the silk to dry. Later you can rinse it in warm water with a touch of mild shampoo to remove any excess dye and then dab it with a towel. Iron the silk dry from the reverse with a medium hot iron. Another thing you can do for a really fashionable look is twist the wet silk and leave it to  dry. That will give you the look you can see in this final photo.

A gorgeous designer silk scarf

And there you are, ready to go. You’re now the proud owner of your very first original silk scarf. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a great way to make yourself something gorgeous in such a short space of time.

Do watch out for the video I’ll be posting in the next day or two, so that you can see the whole process in action. Have fun and let me know how things work out for you. I’d love to see your designer scarves.

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61 Responses to How to Create a Beautiful Designer Silk Scarf Using Your Microwave

  1. Isla says:

    Do you know if I can go back and add dye after the scarf has been microwaved and air dried? I have just a few white spots that I would prefer colored. Thank you!

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Isla – sorry I didn’t reply sooner. I didn’t get a notification. So, after you have dyed your scarf and set the dyes in the microwave, you should completely wet your scarf again and add the dyes to the white spots. Then just microwave as before. 🙂

  2. Victoria Harra says:

    Did you use aluminum foil ??? It doesn’t go in the microwave. I’m confused. Or is it just Saran Wrap ???

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Victoria – thanks for your comment. And yes, you are right, no aluminium foil in the microwave. If you look at the post you will see that I have used clear stretch wrap, Saran wrap for you, cling foil for the Europeans. I hope your microwaving turns out great.

      Warm wishes


  3. Susan Rudall says:

    An easy to follow tutorial with great results.Have you ever done this process on coloured silk? My reason for asking is that I have a quantity of coloured silk in long lengths in three different colours given to me by a friend who bought them in Thailand.I know the colours will react differently but can’t find any info suggesting what to do and don’t want to spoil the fabric.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Susan – many apologies for not replying sooner. I didn’t get notifications for many comments. So to your question – glad you find the tutorial clear to understand. And no, I don’t think I have used coloured silk before. My suggestion to you would be to just tear off a tiny strip of each piece of fabric, soak them and add a little coloured dye to each. Microwave and see how it looks. My feeling is that you should be absolutely find provided that this is pure silk and not a mix. If it’s a mix, you could have problems. Good luck.

      Warm wishes


  4. Marisa says:

    muy lindo, no tengo acceso a seda pura, es muy costosa en Perú, podría usar seda sintética en el microondas ? que tipo de textil sintético podría usar


    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hey Marisa

      Buenos dias. So you don’t have access to pure silk as it’s costly in Peru. And can you use synthetics in the microwave? Unfortunately I only have experience of using natural protein fibre and dyes and so don’t know the answer to your question with certaintly. You would probably have to try out small pieces of nylon or polyester with some fibre reactive dye (Procion MX) to see how it works. Cotton, another natural fibre, may work that way. Let me know how it goes. Good luck! 🙂

  5. Nan Spier says:

    I know this is an older post, but I’m curious. Do you wash it in something special so the colors don’t run or bleed? Also – be careful calling the Saran wrap a FOIL. I could just see some silly people use aluminum foil in this project….you know, those who choose NOT to read all the directions! LOL 🙂

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Nan – no, I wash my silks in pure water. 🙂
      I wrote this article when living in the UK and Europeans call this cling wrap. All good. If North Americans don’t listen or read the instructions properly – yes, they might do silly things. That’s life. 🙂

  6. Clare Hogan says:

    A brilliant tutorial. Thank you I had forgotten how do this as it was nearly 5 years since I made one. Did have to use half hot and half cold water as that was the only thing I wasn’t sure on.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Clare

      Glad you enjoyed the tutorial. It was lovely to revisit this article as it’s been a while since I first posted it – nearly 7 years. I may publish this one on my Facebook page to share it with those who haven’t seen it before.

      Warm wishes

  7. Patty says:

    Hi Fiona! I love this!! Love it, love it, love it! I do far too little silk painting of late because my…heh…”real job” keeps me too busy and I usually get pretty elaborate when I do work on silk (and I’m a die-hard when it comes to using quality dyes (i.e. Pebeo Silk) and steaming the piece properly. This technique, however, is a godsend and the results look just lovely.
    I have one question for you though…does the microwave technique work when you’re using gutta?
    Thank you!! 🙂

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Patty

      I didn’t get notification of your comment so I do apologise for not replying. I’m glad you love this technique. A quick answer to your question is no. Don’t use gutta in the microwave. It’s only intended for really wet silk. Ideally you would properly steam any silks with gutta or liner on them.

      Warm wishes


      • Patty says:

        Thank you Fiona, I thought as much but wanted to make sure.
        I will definitely be using your technique. Thank you so much for sharing it and…let’s all keep creating beautiful artworks!! 🙂 🙂
        All the best,


  8. Gert Janett says:

    Love the scarf and the tutorial was clear and very understandable. Thanks. Did you ever produce the video? If so, how may I access it?

  9. Beryl Wood says:

    this is a lovely quick way to do a scarf. I like to do it by holding one corner of the wet scarf and run my hand down the scarf to scrunch it together, the with pipets dribble the colours, tucking some in the folds. I start at the bottom and work up letting the scarf drop into the bowl as l go. I only use 3 colours at a time I find any more go muddy. I always wipe any excess paint out from the bottom of the bowl ( I use a piece of spare silk as my wipe up cloth then after a few weeks when it is covered I steam it and make hand bags out of it waste not want not). Like the idea of tying knots will try that next time love Beryl

  10. Sylvia says:

    Hiii how long can I keep the scarves before I put them in the microwave?. I am thinking of doing them at school with my students,placing them in marked plastic ziplocks and doing them in mu micro about 4 hrs after dye painted on. Will this work?

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Sylvia – thanks for stopping by. The quick answer to your question is no. This method has to be done quickly in one go:

      ‘The important thing is that you keep the silk nice and wet so that you can properly ‘cook’ it afterwards.’

      This only works with the silk wet. Please don’t put any work aside to microwave later. Put it straight into the microwave. These are acid dyes not fibre reactive which need to ‘sit’ in a bag overnight to react with the fabric.

      Read the instructions through again to make sure you get the right dyes for this method. It’s very important to do it exactly as described. By all means use ziplocked bags but put them in the microwave straight away.

      Hope that helps. And let me know how you get on. 🙂

      Warm wishes

  11. Pingback: Buying Silk Painting Supplies at Low Cost « Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

  12. I loved your instructions. They are so simple and easy and you have given me courage to BELIEVE I could do this someday. Make my own scarf kewl!

    Lisa Ann Landry
    Vibrating Positive Energy

  13. Thanks for this post — nicely written and gorgeous photos, as usual. I enjoyed re-reading about how to tie-dye. Back in the 60s, I used to do this with T-shirts, sheets, towels, etc, but never thought to try a silk scarf.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Glad you enjoyed this Robbie. Yes, tie=dye is great fun, isn’t it. Technically this isn’t real die-dye as it involves creating some form of resist to create the patterns. You’ve reminded me that I made a real tie-dye about a year ago, so I may just post that one to let you see. The silk is much thinner than cotton and creates different results. Thanks for the ideas.

  14. What a wonderful tutorial! The photos are art pieces in themselves. I must say I would like a separate blog post on how/why you chose to eschew a microwave. I’ve thought quite a bit about how much I use a microwave (a lot) and wondering if it’s in my best interest. But back to the scarves! Yours is absolutely beautiful and you make the technique sound within reach for us ordinary folks. One question–anything about picking out the scarf to use?

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks a lot for your comment Judy. I love to take photos and make up these posts. As to the microwave, well, now I just have to make a blog post about the ‘cons’. And the silk scarf itsef – well, you can get plain white scarves in any shop that sells silk painting materials. So where you find the paints, you find the scarves. Thanks for mentioning it as I could add some info about this again.

  15. Wow- how cool is that! I’ve sent it to my sister who does this kind of thing, although don’t think she’s ever gotten into silk screening. I may even try it someday…lol

    Love your explanation with pictures and looking forward to the video. Thanks for taking the “HELP!” out of doing something creative for us non-creative people.

    Candace Davenport ~ Little Books with a Big Message

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Candace, Glad you enjoyed it and hope your sister has a go. Btw. silk screening is a specific printing process which was originally done using frames stretched with silk. This is part of the world of silk painting, using dyes and brushes. Thanks for coming by.

  16. This is a great tutorial on creating a silk scarf at home in the perfect colors. And for a fraction of the cost of purchasing at a boutique shop.

    Rachel Lavern
    Personal Transformation, Enlightenment and Development

  17. What an easy project and the finish product is lovely. People could do this and create pillows or throws, by piecing bits together. You know me, always focused on the home decorating aspect

    Lovely Fiona!

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      So glad you liked this Jen and thanks for your comments. We are really on the same page with this sort of line. I love to make cushions and soft furnishings and have been thinking of all sorts of lovely throws. Really the sky’s the limit with these sort of things – you’re so right.

  18. KathyAlice says:

    This looks like fun. Reminds me of some of the tie dye projects I did years ago, but your results look a bit more stylish

  19. Jen Sako says:

    I emailed this to a artsy friend of mine! Awesome blog post!

  20. Irene Turner says:

    Now that’s fun and something I can do with my grand daughter as she get’s older…and hopefully more grand kids that come a long. Thanks!

  21. Donna McCord says:

    This sounds like so much fun and what a beautiful product as a result! My daughter is so good with this kind of thing, I am going to share this with her and see if she would be willing to give it a try. Once I see how she does, I may try it too! I look forward to seeing your video!

  22. Beautiful and so simple! I’m not crafty at all though but my eldest daughter is and she loves scarves. Dare I show her this?
    Louise Edington
    Facing Fears and frontiers Over Fifty

  23. Rob Wallis says:

    Now here is something I would never have thought of. Great instructions, and the photos definitely help. Sounds like a wonderful holiday gift.

  24. sharonhiebing says:

    The scarf turned out beautifully. This would make a fabulous Xmas present and be meaningful since you made it yourself. Nice demonstration.

    Sharon Hiebing
    Follow Your Dream Compass

  25. Soooo cool! I’m so not crafty, but appreciate the process and opportunity to create. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Brandy Mychals
    Split Second Perceptions

  26. Julie Labes says:

    The end result is absolutely gorgeous. Not sure mine would look like that if I gave it a try. But you never know. I never considered myself much of an artist but if I could make a scarf that looked like yours I would be very happy.
    I knew you were in thew UK soon as you mentioned Morrisons. I hadn’t heard the tern clingfilm for years so thanks for that memory also

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Glad to have brought you some memories Julie. And you’d be surprised what results you would get if you tried this out. It really is quick, easy and fun.

  27. Pat Zahn says:

    Nice, clear and easy instructions. I particularly like the “twist and dry” technique as my iron and I are not friends.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Twist and dry is great Pat. And you can quickly make something that goes great with a favourite outfit.

  28. I am going to have to try this! I wear scarves year round – whether it is cold outside or air conditioned in summer.
    It would be great to wear my own creation.

  29. Fiona, what a great idea! I have never done that much silk painting because I have always had issues with steaming. I have several scarves crying out for this. The plastic wrap you are talking about is actually called “Saran Wrap”, as it is a brand name,

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Muffy, lovely to hear from you again. Yes, this idea is just so versatile and gives people an easy start to silk painting. And the cling film, that’s funny. Ceran/Saran – my phonetical transcription. Thanks for putting that right. Have a go Muffy and come back to let me know how things work out.
      Fiona 🙂 x

  30. jasdeep kaur says:

    hi fiona…i absolutely loved going thru this wonder process of microwaving ur silks!i remember having a few words on this with u sometime back but seeing is believing…n i believe it does give wonderful results!
    to add a cherry on the cake…the scrunched up look…brilliant i’d say 🙂
    m sure this technique can be used to fix plain colored silks too as in not tie-n-dye but just one color?!?!?
    great job there…
    lots of love

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks Deepa. Glad you liked it and I hope you are inspired to give it a go. There are so many things you can do with it and the uni-colour fabric is something to try out too. You’re likely to get a mottled look, but I haven’t tried it yet so am not sure. I think I could publish a whole book with effects you can achieve in this way. Have fun with it. Love Fiona 🙂 x

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