Silk-dyed eggs

This easter, forgo the candy-colored tablets and vinegar for dyeing eggs with silk neckties. You can always find silk ties at the thriftstore (or maybe this is your chance to free the men in your life from any outdated neckwear). Dyeing eggs with neckties is one of my favorite seasonal projects because it incorporates green-crafting practices and, since you never know which ties will make the prettiest eggs, there’s a delightful mystery to it all.

My best friend’s aunt showed us this when we were kids. I remember the first time I unwrapped my tie-wrapped egg…MAGIC!!! They’re still so fun to unwrap. Martha Stewart featured this method in her online magazine in 2006, but I’d like to think that we beat Martha to it.

Anyway, on with the egg-dyeing!

Dyeing Eggs with silk ties

Materials: raw eggs, fabric shears, sewing thread (white or light colors are best), and 100% silk neckties

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Look for labels that say “all silk” or “100% silk.” Dont guess! It wont work with anything but 100% silk.

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

A word on choosing the ties: Blue and red are a dime a dozen. Greens and browns are rare so snatch them up if you see some. Sometimes the ugliest ties make pretty eggs, so dont discriminate 🙂

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Dissect the tie, separating the silk from all of the liners and backing

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

With the right side facing the egg, cut a rectangle that easily covers the egg

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Now wrap the egg with thread, carefully tucking the ends in like youre wrapping a present

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Keep wrapping until you cant see any silk. Sometimes this takes a whole spool of thread

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Boil for 15-20 minutes, cross your fingers, and unwrap!

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

My favorite of the bunch – an impressively crisp paisley

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Blue checks with a tinge of pink (I think from the red thread)

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Such pretty soft yellow dots!

Eggs dyed with silk neckties

All lined up

I hope this inspires you to give the silk-dyeing a try. As for what to do with your dyed eggs, I’ve read some warnings online about not eating them since the dye isn’t technically food-safe. However we’ve always eaten them with no ill effects. Maybe the ill effects are coming…reader Joan who is a fiber artist commented below to remind everyone to a) not eat these and b) dye them in a separate pot. Thanks Joan!

You can keep them in a cool, dry location and after a few years the eggs will naturally dry out inside. As long as they don’t crack (which would be a nasty, smelly affair) you can use them year after year as decoration. My mom still sets out eggs that we dyed over a decade ago.

Several commenters have asked why not hollow out the eggs first. I’ve done it both ways and in my experience, hollowing them out makes the eggs pretty fragile. The pictures transfer best when you wrap the eggs TIGHTLY, which is hard to do when you’ve hollowed them. Maybe I just don’t have a delicate enough touch…you can certainly try hollowing them first and you might have better luck than me! I’d rather just let them dry out naturally over time.

Here are links to other crafty bloggers who have used this method and notes on their variations:

The Magic Onions (weight the eggs down in the pot with a stone…brilliant!)

Crafting in a Green World (use different ties on the same egg for a stripe effect)

Our Best Bites (cover the silk with a piece of plain fabric instead of thread)

Snaps and Blabs (some of the best pattern transfer I’ve seen!!)

Cucina Testa Rossa (suggested by Lisa; rub finished eggs with oil for impressive shine)

61 responses to “Silk-dyed eggs

  1. Wonder if using a tube made of old panty hose around the egg with the ends tied off would give a firm enough hold for this? Would save a lot of wrapping 🙂

    • yeah some people do it this way. It’s alright…can’t replicate the pressure of the wrapping and so (in my opinion) the color transfer isn’t as bright. Pros and cons to both methods!

  2. Melody Hawthorn

    I have about 100 silk ties in great condition to sell for this purpose. I am selling them for $1.00 each

  3. Such amazing eggs! Going to try this. Do I have to use that much thread? (running low!)

    • You basically want to use enough thread that you can’t see any of the scarf peeking through. Something thicker, like kitchen twine, might do the job with fewer wraps too.

  4. I found a supplier that I purchase the ties from by the pound. Of course I have to buy 50 pounds at a time and they aren’t all silk but they come out to about .25 each. I am going to try some tomorrow even though it is July and 95 outside. Such a great idea.

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  6. A German Gramma taught me to look and pick delicate spring flowers, grass,
    anything that is live and has color, cut pieces of old sheets (enough to wrap the egg) place a small arrangement of the pickings, wrap tightly as you would with this tie instructions, boil them in lots of onion peel, or beet juice, pomegranates, what ever color you want to extract. let the eggs cool in the bath for a bolder color, then unwrap, trace the designs with a extra fine sharpie, or pencil, turns out beautiful, and a great way to use your onion peels.

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  8. Thank you for this refreshing idea! Yours are perfect! Most everything returns every 20 to 30 years, with an added touch. My friend from the Middle East had shown me a black and white version from beautiful silk.
    I have a vintage love and many men’s ties waiting for projects, love this one.
    Great to be late on commenting, interesting to read your comments from others. Of course, pinned.
    Take care

  9. couldn’t you poke a hole in the bottom of the egg to drain the yoke and white before boiling? I know the egg would float more… but it would still have the same effect, no?

    • Hi Laurie – Yes, several others have suggested this in the comments below. I’ve done it both ways and in my experience, hollowing them out causes more issues than it solves. The picture transfers best when you wrap the egg TIGHTLY and wrapping it tightly is hard when the egg is so fragile. An un-hollowed egg is much more sturdy.

  10. I would recommend that you blow the eggs out, cover the bottom with masking tape, mix up some plaster of paris, fill the eggs, let them set up, then do the silk tie wrap and dye them for permanent eggs. after the plaster sets up, you could use some caulk, silicone, to plug both holes, but I also have an injector needle for giving worm medicine to livestock, punch thru the end with a needle, then put in the syringe, pull the plunger back to extract the edd, might could do it and not open both ends that way. just a couple of thoughts that came to mind from reading this, as it appears the eggs become fragile so this could save them if you fill them with plaster of paris. using the syringe method might allow you to turn the egg hole downward in the egg pedestal and no one would be the wiser that it was “blown out”. any thoughts??

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  12. Sorry if misunderstood… Do I boil them in regular water????

  13. I still have the eggs you dyed for me when you were in 7th grade (or 8th?) My cleaning lady dropped and broke one–man did it stink inside! I have them displayed in an antique dish on my bookcase in my living room!

  14. Have you tried empty the inside of the eggs out before you dye?

    • I haven’t, but some readers have with good results. It makes the eggs more fragile so it’s easier to break them when you’re wrapping them tightly with thread. Because the un-hollowed eggs naturally dry up over the years (as long as you store and display them carefully) I have found that hollowing them isn’t necessary.

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  16. This was great! You definitely have to wrap ALL the way around. I didn’t completely cover mine and you can see where it wasn’t wrapped so a lot of the pattern was missing. I did try a Dakron tie as well (just because I loved the pattern on it) and that came out as well as the silks. I used my local home grown brown eggs so the colors aren’t terrifically bright. I may try store-bought white eggs and give it another go in a couple of days. Melissa Howard – I like your idea of using the shells for a mosaic.

  17. You could peel the eggs and use the shells for mosaic…

  18. That’s so cool! I’m going to have to try these this year.

  19. Can you wrap the eggs in any type of string?

    • sure! Sometimes the bright colors bleed into the water a little (that’s why my blue checked egg has a pink undertone), but even that’s not a big problem. I think a thin twine would work really well too…and of course there are the other posts that suggest strips of scrap cloth and/or pantyhose.

  20. Do you think this could be done on a wooden egg?

  21. Can you blow out the inside so they last forever, maybe spray with some polyeurothane for a nice shine and preservative?

    • In one of the links I gave, the person rubbed them with oil for a nice shine. Polyurethane would be good too! Blowing them out would make little weak points in the shell, which I think would crack too easily when you wrap them tightly with string or cloth. You hafta wrap them very tightly. The good news is that they’ll still last for a long time…if you just make sure the shells never crack, they naturally dry out.

  22. Totally doing this at Easter!

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  24. Can you still use thread for other eggs, or is it a one time thing?

    • you can totally use it over and over. Some of the other links I provide use strips of cloth or pantyhose and it turned out well…I might try that next time because it would be faster. Either that, or use a very thick thread…almost thin twine.

  25. love the idea of using old ties as a dye source. Please be careful when dying…I’m an experienced fiber artist and know that those dyes are toxic and no eggs should be eaten when dyed with any fabric dye. Eggs have porous shells and the chemicals leak thru; plus, a special pot used only for dying is a must. Enamel is the best.

  26. Wow! I had never heard of this…will be trying this! Too bad eggs go bad 🙂

    • If you leave the eggs in a cool, dry place they will naturally dry out over time. The yolk becomes like a little rattle. My mom sets out eggs we made a decade ago!

  27. I’ve been looking for a unique way to decorate for Easter…..think I’ve found it! Can’t wait to try this.

  28. These are really cool. Does anyone have any more info on eating them? Just curious!

  29. Fabulous eggs Katie! I come by way of Leslie at Snips and Snails.

  30. can you use the same piece of tie over or just the one time ? just wondering if the piece u use first would not transfer the dye after that. lots of neighborhood kids here would love to do this with them not many ties hahahahaha.

  31. Katie, thank you for the link.
    Its a wonderful project and I hope more people have fun with it.

    Wonderful Easter to everyone.

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  33. I made them last year, it was alot of fun and sort of mysterious with the neckties. The pictures are here:

    I found them on Cucina Testa Rossa with photos here:

    Laura really seems to get all the pattern onto the eggs.

    With the blogosphere, I am seeing that nothing is really new, especially with the blogosphere, it is in how we present it and in seeing how connected we are and how we influence each other. We are doing an article on them in our Easter section in The Wonder of Childhood too.

    I’ve not seen the wrapping with thread before.

    Thank you for your lovely post!

    • Lisa – thank you for linking to more photos and projects! Laura’s pattern-transferrals ARE impressive. I especially love the flowered one. I think maybe the vinegar helps set the dye.

      Of course you’re right about the blogosphere being a community of shared ideas and influences…nothing is truly new. If it were anyone but a mogul like Martha, I wouldn’t be at all concerned about “who tried it first”. There’s a part of me that finds joy at the thought of Martha getting her ideas from US, rather than vice versa hehe

  34. Hi Katie – my daughter Molly showed me your blog and I love it – I tried these Easter eggs and they are so very cool! Best Easter craft ever. Great job with the blog.

  35. katie! my mom did this with the little girls and LOVED it!! i told her to post pics or send them to me so i can… awesome project. -b.

    • ooo yes – send me pics or put them in their own post! I woulda loved to join the Webers in making these. How fun!
      – katie

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  37. Oh wow! Too cool! I’ve never heard of silk-dying eggs, and those are awesome!

  38. the price of classic silk ties just went up a penny or two.

  39. wow – those are really neat! I must stop by Goodwill tomorrow!!

  40. Kaite – freaking awesome eggs. enough said.

  41. This is the coolest thing ever! I had no idea that you could dye eggs like this. I think that some of my dad’s older ties back in Iowa would make for amazing patterns.

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