Eco Print Scarves

Eco Print Scarves DIYOh, how I love making eco-patterns on playsilks and scarves. Silk takes color like crazy and the natural materials used in the patterns are easy to see. There are as many ways to eco-print as there are crafters in the world. Try this simple (yet satisfying) technique.

What you’ll need:

  • 100% silk scarf or playsilk, any size & pre-wetted (try Dharma Trading Company)
  • White vinegar
  • Small bowl with some white vinegar
  • Non-reactive pot
  • Rubber bands
  • Plant materials such as eucalyptus, dark rose petals, onion skins, etc. (I favor the silver dollar leaf type of eucalyptus, but use whatever type you can get)
  • Extra eucalyptus leaves (Two large handfuls)


  1. Fill the pot about halfway up with water and two big handfuls of eucalyptus leaves. Turn the heat on medium and once it’s simmering turn the heat down a bit so that it’s a strong simmer or a gentle rolling boil.
  2. Take your pre-wetted silk scarf or playsilk and lay it flat on your dye station table.
  3. Dip eucalyptus leaves into the bowl of white vinegar (just some color assurance here) and place them all over the silk in whatever way pleases you.
  4. Now, place the onion skins, rose petals, or whatever plant materials you have onto the silk. 
  5. Fold the silk in half and repeat with the eucalyptus leaves and other materials.
  6. Start from the bottom and begin rolling the scarf or playsilk up until you reach the end. Roll carefully to keep your plant materials inside.
  7. Using the rubber bands, secure the sides several times to create a bundle. Turn the bundle sideways and add more rubber bands going the opposite direction.
  8. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup vinegar to the pot
  9. Add the bundled silk to the pot on the stove. Let it simmer hard or gentle boil for about two hours.
  10. Using tongs, remove the bundle from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes.
  11. Clip the rubber bands off of the bundle and add the used plant materials to your compost pile. Rinse the silk off in cool water and hang up to dry. 

A variation of this is to use something like a piece of PVC pipe or other sturdy item to wrap the silk around. Then add the rubber bands to secure the silk lengthwise onto the pipe or other core item. Try every variation that you can think of for some beautiful and original eco patterns.

by Chris McLaughlin, A Garden to Dye For

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