There’s something so awesome about making a hand dyed textile for your home. It’s a super creative way to add personality to your space, and it’s so fun to do! Whether you have pets, or kids or are just a little clumsy yourself, it doesn’t hurt to add some protection to your couch cushions with a throw.
I chose ice dying because I wanted to create a fluid, organic pattern on a large piece of natural linen. You can use more than one color of dye for a more retro tie dye look, or go with one color like I did, for a more sophisticated (but still fun) accent piece. Totally up to you!
If you’ve never dyed fabric before, don’t worry, this is super simple.
- Dish rack
- Wash tub
- Measuring cup
- Plastic gloves
Setting up for this project is pretty easy. Just grab a large pan or bucket that you don’t mind getting dye on. I used a plastic tub with a dish rack inside, but you can really use anything that fits into your tub, and elevates the fabric with enough space for ice to drip through.
Pour one gallon of water into your wash tub and add in one cup of soda ash. Mix until it’s completely dissolved. Don’t worry if things get a little splishy-splashy, the soda ash mixture dries white and wipes away easily with a damp cloth.
Next, submerge your piece of fabric in the tub and allow it to soak for 15 minutes. If you have a smaller piece of fabric, adjust the proportions accordingly. This step may seem tempting to skip, but the soda ash acts as an important fixer for the dye and helps activate the color with the natural fibers of your fabric. So don’t skip it!
When the timer dings, wring out all the excess liquid and carefully arrange the fabric to fit completely on your tray. Add as many twists or turns as you’d like for a more complex design.
Now comes the cool part (literally) — the ice. Completely cover your piece of fabric with ice cubes. Don’t worry if you can’t get your cubes to go all the way to the edges. The fabric will absorb the dye and spread, so you won’t be left with big white spaces.
Ok now for the real cool part. Dye time! Carefully sprinkle your fiber-reactive dye powder on top of your ice. Start off slow. Less is definitely more!
Keep adding dye powder until you’ve totally covered the surface of the ice. This is where you would add another color if you wanted to go for more of a tie dye effect.
Now comes the hard part. Allow your piece of fabric to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. I spent all night thinking about the dripping piece of art and worrying about how the dye would get through all that fabric, but lo and behold, the next day there was a bundle of dark blue fabric waiting for me!
Remove the fabric from the tray and rinse it in a sink with cold water until it runs clear.
It was SO exciting to open up the throw and see what happened! I couldn’t believe what a gorgeous pattern the ice dye had created, very rorschach meets shibori with mirrored images, surprising gradients of color and small sprinkles of intensity.
After thoroughly rinsing, run your dyed fabric through the wash with detergent on cold, then toss it in the dryer or hang dry depending on type of fabric you used. Now you’re ready to casually drape your new hand-dyed textile anywhere you’d like!
What are you planning to create? Tell me in the comments below!
Updated on July 15th, 2019