How to Steam Set Silk Dyes in the Microwave

The silk painters’ favourite, H Dupont Classique dyes, provide bright and clear colour results on silk fabric. Although the iron fix silk paints offer a fair alternative, they do leave the fabric a little stiffer than a dye. This stiffness effects the drape of the fabric while dyes retain the fluidity.

Silk painted with H Dupont dyes

Our image shows silk fabric painted with H Dupont silk dyes (top) and Javana Silk Paints (bottom)

Silk dyes are set permanently on the silk fabric by the heat from steam, this ensures that silk painted items are washable. Steam fixing can be carried out in a designated fabric steamer, or it can be wrapped in paper and tin foil and steam fixed with the heat generated in a vegetable steamer or in a colander placed over a saucepan of boiling water.

An alternative to steam fixing using the above techniques is to fix the painted fabric in a microwave.

How to Steam Set H Dupont Classique Silk Dyes in the Microwave

Use this technique for paintings created using silk dyes:

  1. Ensure that the dye is completely dry on the fabric
  2. Place the painting on a sheet of paper slightly larger that the silk fabric or scarf
  3. Loosely roll up the painting and the paper together. This to help prevent painted areas of the silk fabric from touching each other
  4. Gently fold the rolled fabric in half and wrap tightly in cling film
  5. Place a cup or bowl containing 50ml of water in the microwave alongside the wrapped silk fabric
  6. Set the microwave to full power and “cook” the parcel for 2 minutes (this is based on a microwave of 850 watts or over, you may need an additional 30 seconds for lower wattage microwaves). The heat from the steam generated by the boiling water will begin to fix the dye on the fabric
  7. Unwrap the parcel and expose the silk to air for one minute
  8. Re-wrap the parcel and microwave for a further 2 minutes

Low Water Immersion Dyeing with Silk Dyes

Bluefaced Leicester Yarn dyed in the microwaveH Dupont Classique Silk dyes can also be used for low immersion dyeing. This technique involves using as little water as possible and can be used to dye silk or wool fabric, fibres or yarns.

  1. First rinse your material in water and squeeze out until just damp
  2. Place in a microwaveable dish and randomly drop the silk dye over it. Remember that this is a concentrated dye colour and a little goes a long way!
  3. Work the dye colour into the fibre with rubber gloved hands. Some areas of the material will have more intense colour and other areas less so
  4. The dish needs to be covered with cling film or a self seal plastic bag to trap the steam generated by the moisture on the material. Try to leave a little room to allow the wrapping to inflate
  5. Place in the microwave and ‘cook’ on full power until the cling film inflates, and then for a further 3-4 minutes
  6. Take care as the dish will be very hot. Leave it to stand for 3-4 minutes before removing it from the microwave
  7. Rinse the material in water until it runs clear. There may be a residue of dye which will wash off during the initial rinse


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