Wax-Resist Technique Scarf DIY

Wax-Resist Scarves DIYThis project is especially nostalgic for me because I learned this technique from my mom in high school art class (yes, my mom was my art teacher for a year!). I may or may not be listening to The Cardigans while typing this post… sigh… the 90s.

Have you heard of wax-resist or batik-dyeing? If not, you’re in for a treat! This was my absolute favorite medium during high school.

I made some giant butterfly wall tapestries and a wrap skirt! It’s super easy and there are endless possibilities to customize the craft. Here are the basics:

SuppliesYou’ll need cotton fabric, wax resist sticks (or crayons!) and Rit dye.

Wax-ResistFirst, draw something on your fabric. You can do color or use un-colored wax sticks like I did. I first learned using colorful crayons. That was cool because I would cover almost the whole fabric with designs and then dye it one color (usually black).

For a different effect, melt the tip of your crayon with a candle before drawing with it. If you choose to use the candle just be sure to use newspaper under your fabric.

DyeDyeI LOVE playing with fabric dye! Just follow the instructions on the dye bottle. I like liquid Rit dye because it’s easy to save the leftovers for future projects.

Wax-Resist  When you are done, rinse the fabric and hand wash it with soap in the sink. Hang it up to dry. After it is completely dry if your fabric seems to have an excess of wax you can remove it by placing the fabric between two pieces of newspaper and ironing it. Done!

Wax-Resist TechniqueWax-Resist Technique. If you are curious about the words scarf it’s some song lyrics from a movie that Jeremy and I love, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.

Wax-Resist ScarfI had a lot of fun working on this project! I was secretly testing the project for a patterned dip dye curtain idea that I want to try. What about you? Do you have ideas for this technique? xo. Elsie (and Emma too!)

  • These are beautiful! Can you do them with any fabric (ie: a fine woven muslin) and is their an “enviro” dye that you can use or is dye just dye? I am a total amateur!

  • Muchas gracias por encerar mis ideas! Es un blog grandioso muy exquisito! Mis mejores deseos para tu trabajo.

  • so amazing! I’ve been looking at wax resist dying all day. I was getting quite overwhelmed by it all. You have totally cleared my mind and I can’t wait to give it a try.
    Great post! Thanks! 😀 😀


  • Batik is awesome!

    To answer Ryan’s question – you can use your washer! Fill it with hot water, then carefully add the dye to the water. Lastly, put the duvet cover in. Let it go through a nice, long wash cycle with an extra rinse. Then, do ta again – until the water in the washer is clear! Once you’ve taken it out to dry, see if there is any dye residue on any if e washe parts, wipe those off, and o one more cycle with the washer empty.

    Whew. It’s easy, promise. 🙂

  • hey there-
    my friend and I tried this over the weekend and ours did not turn out. We followed your instructions but I am wondering if maybe we just used too cheap of crayons. Would that matter? We used RoseArt white crayons. You could see our pattern and writing while it was in the dye but when it was all said and done, all we ended up with was some colorfully dyed fabric.
    any suggestions?

  • This is amazing! You could even try reversing it by writing the wax bit on a coloured scarf and bleaching the colour out… Don’t know if it will be as pretty but I guess it’s worth a shot :3 Great work 😀

  • Hello, could you tell me your source for your plain white scarves, please? I have so many ideas and I need a canvas! 🙂 Thanks for your two recent scarf posts.

  • Doralyn,
    I would not machine wash these scarves. I’m sure you “could” but it’s not worth the risk to your other clothing. I hand wash a lot of stuff in my home and it’s not that hard. I just keep it in a separate pile and wash them in the sink with laundry soap when the pile gets big.

    Hope that helps!

  • Lightbulb! I have a bunch of the clear wax crayons that come in Easter egg dye kits – bet they’re the same thing….

  • I love batik fabrics, and I’d love to make some of my own. Thanks for sharing!

  • when we wash it what soap should we use. ive done this before but the soap left a kind of stain

  • Love this idea and so want to make some hand towels with this method!

  • This is genius!!! I was just wondering about something like this and wondering if it would work – you just proved to me that it would, I am so excited!!!

  • Hi Maggie-
    I couldn’t say as I have not tried, BUT i would only hand wash these scarves. 🙂

  • Already am planning to draw leaves on my cloth napkins and dye them green to match all of the other green leaf-related items in my apartment!

    (which, let’s face it, is everything…)

    Quick question: does the wax stand up to machine washing?

  • Saw your scarves featured on The Long Thread blog ~ love them and thanks for the tutorial!

  • Great project, so many possibilities! And I’m obsessed with the harlequin wrapper on those wax sticks!

  • I remember doing this at school! Though we use to use at least two dyes at once to get cool rainbow effects. I just stuck my samples in my sketchbook; I never thought to make scarves like this!

  • Love it! Rit dye is one of the more badass craft supplies, for sure. I’m thinking about using it to revive some dingy-looking old favorite dresses, love the idea of adding a pattern instead of a full-on dye!

  • i love this idea, i am absolutely wanting to try making some scarves!! looking forward to the curtains!


    I write for first time, I read your blog all days, I LOVE YOUR BLOG it’s a big inspiration for me, thanks for all your ideas, recipes and adventures.

    I send a kiss from Mexico city.

    PS. I want to tried this tutorial, maybe with draws for my sisters.

  • Laurali, This would definitely be safe for kids using cotton fabric and crayons. I would do the dyeing part for them, of course! 🙂

  • This is an awesome project! Thanks for posting! Already pinned…..whoot whoot

  • I absolutely adore this idea! I’m about to try it on a shirt I’ve been meaning to dye. I’m thinking white stars. 🙂

  • I did this in school too, after dying a piece of fabric did we sew a little bag from it. I still have mine.

  • Just knowing that you like that movie gives me a better idea of who you are – even though I read your blog, enjoy your daily photos, pin your projects – because The Diving Bell and The Butterfly isn’t a film many people can sit through and appreciate. Seeing through his eye, feeling the man’s frustrated limitations once the story was over was effective film-making, but very uncomfortable. I tried to explain the experience to some people who were aghast at my lack of knowledge of popular films/blockbusters, and it didn’t really help my case. Anyway, that was a cool detail/footnote at the end of another cool project. 🙂

  • My mom taught us this for Easter eggs!! It’s still my favorite! And the Cranberries!! I think we’d be great friends 😉

  • oo i’ve been toying around with the idea of doing dip dyed curtains! would be cool to use this technique on them as well!

  • I have some very much faded curtains that I loathe and this might help me revive them and keep from having to spend more money on curtains. Thanks so much for the idea!!

  • We did Batik Dyeing in high school as well…it was very fun! I didn’t know they made wax “crayons” though! We just dripped melted wax onto our scarves to make it easy and time efficient 🙂

  • This looks like such a cool project! I’ve never played around with dye… I think it would be fun to try with other medium, like paper or handknit fabric 🙂 Thanks!

  • I love Rit dye, I always have so much success with it! Thanks for the wax resist tutorial, this is such a great idea. I can’t wait to try it.

  • This is so much fun! I’ve been playing with wax resists lately but on paper to make some art! With spring coming, I should shift to some fabric!

  • This is such a fun, easy project! I’m a scarf addict, and this would be a great project to try out for spring!

  • I did something like this at school (so many moons ago!) but I remember it turned out so well. Wish I still had it!

  • Is it necessary to cover both sides of the fabric with wax if I want the pattern on both sides?

  • It looks gorgeous and it reminds me of trying out batik t-shirt making in Ubud when I was a kid. I recently tried to do this in reverse by bleaching a coloured shirt. Didn’t quite go to plan….

  • Love this idea! And especially the fact that I only need to go out and buy 2 things from my craft store!

  • I LOVE IT! I really enjoy checking out your blog to see what you guys have going on and this idea is fan-tas-tic! I am going to try this out over the weekend! Thanks!

  • Love this, I’ve been meaning to try batik again, I never realised you could use wax crayons – duh! Will definitely be experimenting with this in my next textiles samples, thanks for sharing and inspiring!!

  • I rememeber doing this in school! Talk about blast from the past 🙂 love it! I have never watched the movie but I have read the book, The Diving Bell & The butterfly. beautiful movie x

  • I am soooo excited to try this! Thank you for the clear instructions, makes it really easy to see what to do.

    -Meg, www.willwork4cupcakes.blogspot.com

  • I somehow missed this in art class! Adorable handmade headbands? I’m in.

  • wow! this is pretty wonderful. this is not at hard and now i do it myself. thanks for sharing

  • Looks totally cool and I haven´t heard about the technique so far. Thanks for sharing <3


  • I would like to use it in pillows!!!
    Write favourite and inspiring words on pillos maybe my next project

  • Nice! Haven’t seen this before, maybe I should try that with my arts & crafts class, I’ve been looking for ideas 🙂

  • As always, yours posts are so CONVENIENTLY timed Elsie! 🙂 Just this morning I was considering the idea of dying curtains, but wasnt sure the best way to achieve a pattern before dying.. this will be perfect! 🙂

  • I’ve never even heard of this! Looking forward to trying a completely new craft, thanks!

  • This sounds incredible! I have been wanting to make my own scarves for a while now!! 🙂 Is this a permanent process, for example if you wash the scarf afterwards will it fade or completely wash out? If I didn’t wash it, would it still fade over time?

    Sorry for all the questions, but it sounds so interesting!

  • Ohhh, I saw this a few weeks back and am really wanting to do this! Good job, those look great! 😀

  • This technique would be great for curtains or pillows, I’ve actually never heard of dying things this way, sweet!

  • Ahhh love this. I have some left over dye as well! Just may give this one a go!

  • Reminds me of a project we did when I was in the Girl Scouts! Stopping by after your blog was recommended to me on my blog’s comments. Great place you have here!

  • I never realized those wax sticks exhisted. The possibility’s are endless.


  • I was wondering if you could tell me the size is the cotton fabric you used?

  • Hi Ladies, I’m a daily reader and big fan of your blog! That may have been redundant, anyways, I’m currious on how you organize your scarves? Maybe a future blog post.

  • Oh how fun! I used to do crayons on easter eggs growing up, similar technique.

    Juliette Laura

  • I remember doing projects like this in elementary school, but I have long forgotten about them until now. Cute and fun!!!


  • I had never heard of this technique! Guess *my* art teacher wasn’t as cool as your mom. I’m so trying this out for a couple of light scarves for the spring!

  • While reading this, I just got an great idea for making some napkins. Thanks for sharing this. I even didn’t know about wax sticks!

  • This makes me nostalgic too! We learnt a similar technique like this in art class using hot melted wax. It’s great to find ways to use skills you learnt in high school as a lot of them seem pointless at the time. I’d love to try this some time!

  • OMG I LOVE this!!! Can’t wait to try 🙂 PS – your post had me reminiscing about romeo and juliet soundtrack “the best!”

  • This is soooo good! My sister bought me a batik pen thingy for Xmas a few years ago but I’ve been too scared to use it cos of all the melting wax and faffing.

    Using crayons is so clever now I have no excuse not to try it!

    Thanks for sharing.


  • I remember this technique from crafts class in school. I still have a shirt somewhere. Makes me want to try it again!

  • Oh this is so fun. I had no idea you could DIY this. Super cute and a must try. I love the word one.

  • so cute!! What a fun idea! Love the orange one as a little headband. Looks great with your dark bangs 🙂

  • i liked this DIY, and i might try it myself! when i dyed my sweater it really opened my mind to the possibilities with dying and changing up your clothes 🙂

  • I have tried this before with a liquid version that I found at the craft store, but it didn’t turn out that great. Glad to see that the crayons work better!

  • Q: For the plus marks did you just use an uncolored wax stick or did you melt the wax a bit like explained above?
    A: Hi Alyssa! The wax was not melted for the cross marks, just some of the handwriting- I did it in spots on that one. 🙂

  • I have never tried this before, but it sounds like a great way to make some personal handmade gifts without breaking the bank! x

  • Oh my gosh what a great project! I love looking at your ideas : ) You guys have a great blog!

    I have been itching at making a custom duvet cover and this might just be the ticket! What do you recommend using as my “pot” for a larger project?

    Thanks Elsie and Emma!

  • I seriously LOVE this DIY too! So many amazing things can come from this!

  • For the plus marks did you just use an uncolored wax stick or did you melt the wax a bit like explained above?

  • WOW! I love this idea. I’ve never played around with wax before. I would love to make these as gifts. Will try soon! Thanks Elsie!

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