How to Dye Silk Ribbons Using Botanicals, Spices, and Fruits

How to Dye Silk.jpg

After scouring the internet for the perfect coppery hued silk ribbon (and finding none) I decided I would try making my own. Of course, I knew nothing about fabric dying but was pleasantly surprised at how easy (and fun!) the process was. All you need is the right material, a bunch of pots, and a stocked kitchen (or garden!) to raid.

For my silks, I used recycled sari silks that I found in a skein at a local craft store. These ribbons aren’t like the perfectly new ones you’ll likely find when purchasing from a professional, but I loved the idea that they were once loved and used by another, and each skein is handmade from vintage silk saris from start to finish by the artisans in co-ops in India.

(Note: If you also are using recycled silks, you will have to cut and trim the pieces before beginning the dying process, which can be a little tedious.)

Next, raid your garden, fridge, and spice cabinet for inspiration. To get the colors pictured, I used the following (from top to bottom):

  • Avocado pits and skins to make a pale blush

  • Turmeric for a vivid yellow ochre

  • Sumac (a middle eastern spice) for a deeper rose pink

  • Blueberries for a grey-lavender

I also tried dandelions and rose petals, but both resulted in super pale ribbons that I ended up re-dying to get a deeper hue. Step by Step:

  1. Bring a medium to large pot of water to a boil

  2. Add your botanicals/spices/fruits/veggies to the boiling water

  3. Let boil for a few minutes before returning to a simmer for 30 - 60 minutes

  4. Strain the water to remove the botanicals/spices/fruits/veggies

  5. Add your silk ribbon to the colored water and return to a boil

  6. Turn off the stove, and let the ribbon soak. Theoretically, longer soak time = deeper color. I found the best way to get a deeper hue was to add more of whatever the colorant was.

  7. Rinse the ribbon in cold water and hang to dry

That’s it! This was a perfect rainy-day activity and they were so much fun to make. I hope you’ll try this project too, and if you do please let me know how it works out for you!