Velvet: devore etching and dying

I had such a great time at the Red Deer College Summer Series this July. I admit I was a bit lonely in the evenings, no T.V! gasp, but what I learned was definitely worth a little me time. I read two whole books! The other ladies in my course, transforming cloth, were all fantastic and the instructor, Lynn Pflueger, was amazing!

The technique used on this velvet scarf is called devore. Here is the definition from my booklet.

“Also known as “burn-out”, devore is a process whereby cellulose fibres are carbonised by acid and heat, then the burned-out fibres are removed by washing. This results in a partly translucent effect in poly/cotton blends, and “holes” in pure cotton.”                

-Lynn Pflueger

I’ll take you through the steps! After sketching my idea and finalizing the layout I pinned the scarf, fluffy side down, to a saran wrap/towel covered board and taped off sections to insure continuity. I learned a way to create stamps that makes it really easy to get the placement you want. Cut out craft foam and rubber cement it to Plexiglas! It’s the little things that really blow my mind! Lol.

Using P-4 thickened paste (the acid) I stamped my print on and painted the design on the ends of the scarf. Then I let it fully dry.


The next step is to use an iron to heat the dried paste only until it achieves a cafe au late color. This can be tricky because you only want to “burn” the fibres enough so they fall off, not so you scorch the rest of the fabric.


And now it’s magic time! Oooohhhh! Simply swish the scarf in water and… Voilà the print is revealed! Ok, it’s more like put the scarf in a jar and shake the crap out of it and rinse it lots to make the burnt fibres fall off. It’s not really magic, it’s science.

After immersing the scarf in a soda soak for 15 minutes it’s time to apply the fibre reactive dye. I had a lot of fun with this. I used an eye dropper, paint brush, and my fingers to rub the dye around. My fingers got a little stained but that’s the mark of a dedicated artist.


I wrapped the scarf in plastic wrap and left it to “cure” overnight in our hotbox. The ideal temperature for this is 70 deg F. The next day I gave it a wash and then it went into a pot of weak acid dye solution for an hour. This process would only dye the background fabric, giving the scarf more depth and an interesting sheen. I choose red.


I’m really happy with the end result! And now that it’s getting a little colder out I can wear it!

I have more projects I’m working on from the samples made during this course that I’m excited to share too.



The week spent at RDC was very informative, eye-opening and above all fun! Yay for learning!