It’s summer so why not try your hand at ice dyeing fabric? Ice dyeing is one of the more dramatic and easiest ways to dye fabric. After all, there’s no hot dye!
Ice dyeing is like watercolor on fabric where you don’t hold the brush!
In this post, I’ll tell you about the best fabrics for ice dyeing, the supplies you’ll need, the best dye to use for ice dye, and then I’ll walk you through the process so you can get on to giving some plain fabrics some big drama!
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What kind of fabric works well for ice dyeing?
You want to stick to natural fibers here. Ice dyeing is a cold-water process. Usually dye sticks better to fabric when it’s hot, and synthetic fabrics need not only a special dye, but near boiling temperatures. So put away your polyesters and acrylic fabrics for ice dyeing.
100% cotton and 100% linen will be your best choices for ice dyeing, though experiment with other natural fibers. Ramie, rayon, hemp, wool, and silk can all be dyed this way as well.
Because it’s a cold water process, you need a dye that’ll work without having to be boiling. I’ve used regular powdered dyes from Dylon and RIT which do really well, but lately I’ve swapped out these for Procion MX dyes. They’re specifically made for cold water dyeing like dye tie, batik, and ice dyeing. The advantage here is that the Procion dyes give you seriously true brilliant colors with less dye.
Supplies to ice dye fabric
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Getting ready to ice dye fabric
Prewash your fabric. For me, I have a pair of white denim jeans, cream cotton knit, and a white cotton stretch twill. Prewashing is going to remove anything that might be on your fabric that might prevent the dye from doing it’s thing well.
Next, dissolve 1 cup of soda ash into 1 gallon of water in the tub you’ll use for dyeing later. Mix it up really well with your gloved hands. Now, pop in your fabric of choice soak in the soda ash solution and let it soak for 15 minutes.
When the time is up, wring out the water back into your tub. You can save the rest of this solution for another dyeing project. Just put it in a container, mark it clearly, and put it someplace out of reach from kids.
Now it’s ice dyeing time!
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.