How to Dye a Hip Scarf Without Removing the Coins


Designer fashions often include embellishments to change the look of any basic garment or accessory, including scarves. Metal trim -- dangling discs or coins -- has jumped to the forefront for several fashion seasons adding an edgy look. Though trim can cause hesitation for craft projects, changing the application method does the trick. Implement the direct dye application technique to change your scarf color. This technique allows you to make small batches of dye while directly applying it to machine-washable material without causing damage to the metal trim.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic wrap
  • Dowel rod
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective smock
  • Dust mask
  • Dye fixative liquid
  • Plastic tub
  • Craft stick
  • Sodium carbonates (soda ash)
  • Fabric reactive dye power
  • Mixing cup (2)
  • Plastic pouring container
  • Disposable plastic spoon
  • Urea
  • Mini mesh wire (optional)
  • Non-iodized salt
  • Plastic funnel
  • Squeeze/squirt bottle
  • Plumber's tape
  • Mesh drying rack

Preparing the Scarf

  • Wrap the dangling coins with plastic wrap. If your scarf has trim on both ends, wrap the trim at each end individually. Add several layers of the plastic wrap to prevent any dye leaking onto the metal.

  • Position a dowel rod with tension springs in your work space. For example, if you are working in a sink or rectangle-shaped plastic tub, insert the dowel rod at a comfortable distance from the bottom of the tub. The dowel is used to drape the wrapped ends, preventing them from falling into solutions or fabric dye mixtures.

  • Wear rubber gloves, a protective smock and a dust mask in a well-ventilated work area. Pour dye fixative liquid -- reduces color bleeding and retains the dye after several washes -- into a plastic tub filled with hot water and mix the solution with a craft stick until the dye fixative completely dissolves. Follow your brand's recommended measurements and water temperature. If you do not have dye fixative, you can substitute it with sodium carbonate, also commercially referred to as soda ash. Mix approximately ½ to 1 cup of sodium carbonate in 1 gallon of hot water to make your own fixative. Check your brand for exact measurement recommendations.

  • Submerge the scarf in the solution, leaving the coins draped over the dowel. Soak for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes or the brand's recommended time. If you do not plan to dye the scarf immediately, read the instructions to ensure you can soak the scarf overnight.

  • Remove the scarf from the dye fixative solution once the fabric dye is prepared in the following section. Wring the scarf as needed to remove the excess water.

Preparing Dye Bath

  • Measure 1 teaspoon of fiber reactive dye in powder form. Add it into a mixing cup or plastic pouring container.

  • Pour 1 teaspoon of warm water to the powder. Mash the water into the dye powder with the backside of a disposable plastic spoon until it forms a paste.

  • Pour 1 cup of warm water into the dye paste. Mix the solution with the spoon or craft stick until it forms a thin liquid substance mixture, referred to as slurry.

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of urea -- a dissolving agent that liquefies dye clumps in dye baths -- into 1 cup of warm water in a separate mixing cup.

  • Pour the urea mixture into the slurry. Continue to stir until all dye clumps dissolve. If you are working with heavily concentrated dye powder and clumps persist, filter the liquid through a mini mesh wire.

  • Add fabric dye powder to the mixture in increments of a ½ teaspoon if the fabric dye color is not in the desired shade. Be mindful, adding more powder creates a darker dye color. Skip this step if you are satisfied with the original color.

  • Add non-iodized salt to the dye bath according to your brand's recommended measurements.

Dyeing the Scarf

  • Remove the cap from the squeeze/squirt bottle and wrap plumber's tape around the threads of the neck of the bottle. Although this step is optional, the tape prevents the dye from dripping or leaking.

  • Pour the fabric dye mixture through a plastic funnel into the squeeze/squirt bottle. Replace the cap.

  • Lay your damp scarf in the emptied plastic tub. Leave the wrapped coins draped over the dowel.

  • Squirt the dye color onto the scarf until it is fully saturated. Be mindful that wide mouth bottles disperse larger amounts of dye. Carefully flip over the scarf and squirt the dye color unto the opposite side of the scarf until it is fully saturated. Leave the dye on the scarf for your brand's recommended time.

  • Remove the scarf from the tub. Rinse the scarf in running cold water to remove the loose dye. Do not submerge the wrapped coins in the water. Continue to rinse until the water runs clear.

  • Wring the scarf to remove excess water and dry it flat on a mesh drying rack. Remove the plastic wrap from the coins before wearing your dyed scarf.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sold in different forms including pellets or crystals, urea is used for tie-dyeing techniques as well as for direct application dyeing. Urea also draws in moisture and keeps the fabric damp for longer periods during the dyeing process. This is especially important during the curing process, keeping your colors brighter.
  • Most scarves with trims require hand-washing for laundering.
  • Read fiber content labels prior to purchasing the fabric dye. Natural fiber scarves, such as cotton, require natural fiber reactive color dyes. Synthetic fibers, such as nylon, require disperse dyes.

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