Make a fashionable spring scarf using this gradient-dyeing technique.
- 2 1/4 yards cotton gauze or cotton cheesecloth
- Washer and dryer
- Large (gallon or more) plastic bucket
- Soda ash dye fixative
- Glass jar
- Procion MX powdered cold-water dye
- Warm water
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 4-ounce or larger plastic squirt bottle
- Masking tape
- 2 13-gallon white plastic garbage bags
- Latex or plastic gloves
- Permanent marker
- Electric fan (optional)
- Mild laundry detergent
- Sewing machine
- Coordinating thread
Pre-wash cotton and dry on high heat; it will likely shrink to about 2 yards long. Snip a small slit in the center of one of the short sides of the cotton; grasp fabric on each side of the slit, and rip down the length to create two long scarves.
Prepare dye solutions: In a large plastic bucket, mix 8 tablespoons soda ash dye fixative into one gallon of warm water. In a glass jar, mix 3 teaspoons powdered dye with 1/2 cup warm water.
Soak undyed cotton scarves in soda ash solution for 30 minutes or more.
While cotton is soaking, decant dye into a 4-ounce or larger plastic squirt bottle. Mark the top of the dye level on the outside of the bottle with a strip of masking tape; place another strip of tape approximately halfway between the first piece and the bottom of the bottle.
Cut two 13-gallon white garbage bags along the seams, and spread out on a flat surface, overlapping the long ends by about 1 foot to create a clean, waterproof work area.
Wearing gloves, thoroughly wring out soaked cotton and spread out on garbage bags, folded in half so that the short edges are matched together.
With a permanent marker, make a mark on the garbage bag about every 6 inches, from the edges of the scarf to the fold.
Begin dyeing at the edges of the scarf, squirting the dye in a zigzag motion along the first 6 inches, until the dye has reached the halfway point you have marked. With gloved hands, spread and blend dye to cover the first six inches.
Refill dye bottle to top mark with water.
Dye the second 6 inches in a zigzag motion as before, using the dye down to the halfway point and blending into the first six inches with gloved fingers. Refill the dye bottle to the top mark with water. Repeat this process, using half the dye and refilling with water, for each of the remaining sections. Blend all sections into each other with gloved hands and fingers.
Allow dyed scarf to sit on garbage bags until about halfway dry (a fan can be used to speed this along). Fold garbage bags and scarf in half lengthwise, and then roll up scarf within garbage bags. Place rolled scarf somewhere warm -- near (not on) a radiator or in a sunny window -- for 12 to 24 hours.
Unroll scarf and remove from garbage bags. Rinse excess dye from scarf, starting with hot water and slowly transitioning to cold, until water runs clear.
Machine-wash scarf in hot water with a mild detergent; dry on high heat.
Hem scarf with a baby hem. To do so: Turn and press a 1/2-inch hem all around scarf. Machine-stitch around scarf, very close to fold of hem. Carefully trim excess fabric, right up to stitching. Turn edges again, this time creating about an 1/8-inch hem. With hem side up, sew all around edges again, following and stitching over the earlier stitch line.
Press scarf with a warm iron. Alternatively, create a crinkled look by spraying scarf with water, folding in half and twisting from both ends, and allowing scarf to dry while twisted. Untwist scarf and shake out.