DIY // how to ice dye

There’s just something so wonderful about making a hand dyed textile for your home. It adds instant personality and interest to any space, and it’s lots of fun! So when Joanna bought a new cream colored sofa for the loft she shares with not one, but two (wonderful and messy) animals, I knew an extra throw might come in handy for some added couch cushion protection.

I went with the ice dying technique to create a fluid, organic pattern on a big piece of natural linen. You could use multiple dyes for a tie dye style look or go with one color like I did, for more of an accent piece. If you’ve never dyed fabric before, don’t worry, this is super simple.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Materials

Tools

For the setup, definitely just use what you have around the house. Any big pan or bucket that you don’t mind getting dye on will work. I used a plastic tub with a dish rack, but you could use anything that fits inside of your tub and elevates the fabric with enough space for ice to drip through.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Start by add 1 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon of water in your wash tub and mix until completely dissolved. Don’t worry if things get a little splishy-splashy, the soda ash mixtures dries white and wipes away with a damp cloth.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Next, submerge your piece of fabric in the tub and allow to soak for 15 minutes. If you have a smaller piece of fabric, adjust the proportions accordingly. This step may seem temping to skip, but the soda ash acts as an important fixer for the dye and helps active the color with the natural fibers of your fabric.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

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 complicated design.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Now it’s time to put the ice in ice dying and completely cover your piece of fabric with ice. Don’t worry if you can’t get your ice cubes to go all the way to the edges, the fabric will absorb the dye and spread throughout.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Okaaaaay! Now for the fun part. Carefully begin to sprinkle your fiber reactive dye powder onto the surface of your ice. Less is definitely more here so start off slow.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Keep going until you’ve completely covered the surface of the ice with your dye powder. Here’s where you could add an additional color for more of a tie dye effect.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Then the hard part, allow to sit undisturbed for 24-hours.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

I was up all night thinking about the dripping piece of art creating itself, 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 from the tray and rinse in a sink with cold water until it runs clear.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

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.

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

After thoroughly rinsed, put your dyed fabric through the wash with detergent on cold, then toss in the drier or hang dry depending on your type of fabric. Now you’re ready to casually drape your new hand dyed textile anywhere you’d like. It’s officially Georgette and Noodle approved!

DIY // how to ice dye jojotastic.com

Project and styling by Gwen McKenzie for Jojotastic.

Photography by Meghan Klein

  • Cassie

    Love this idea! If I decide to use a bigger piece of linen do I add more soda ash?

    • Hi Cassie,
      For a larger piece of fabric, I would recommend proportionally increasing the amounts of each ‘ingredient’ in order to achieve coverage similar to what we show here. It’s very much a trial and error process, so if possible try to do a test piece before fully committing!

      Thanks,
      Joanna

  • Megan

    Hi @jojotastic:disqus ! I was wondering how much of the 2/3 oz dye jar you used for your throw. I was thinking about doing this project with a friend, and I wonder if we each need our own jar of dye or if we can share. Thanks!

    • Hi Megan, we didn’t use the entire jar of the dye powder for this project. Keep in mind that it’s a very… trial and error sort of project so you may use less powder on some pieces and more on others. It also depends on the type of look you want. If you want more of the white fabric to show, you can use less powder. Inversely, if you want more color saturation, you’ll need more powder. I tend to over-order when I shop on line just in case, so you could always do that? Thanks and I hope this helps!

  • josie bivens

    How well do you think this would work on a knit fabric? I’d like to make a throw, but sewing isn’t my thing so if I can avoid sewing the ends, I would like to!

    • It would totally work on a knit, just make sure it’s a natural fiber and not a synthetic. Synthetics may not take the dye in the same way as a natural fiber, so your results would be different. I hope that helps!

  • Olivia Essary

    Have you tried using this on tshirts? thinking about trying it, just wondering! looks great!

    • I haven’t tried on t shirts, but it would work well! I would suggest making sure that the fiber content of the shirt is 100% cotton or linen. Polyester and synthetics may not take the dye as well and it could look odd!

  • Stephanie

    What did you use for the fabric? I know you attached a website to the linen but I wasnt sure if that was the one you actually used. I would like to get the ssame one you did!

    • yes! that’s the exact fabric in the link :)

  • RationalOpionions

    Would you recommend the procion dye for cotton, or should I go with another kind of dye? Thanks!

    • hi! it would work well on cotton. definitely do a test swatch, just in case though :)

  • Our rack came from a shop called Daiso, it’s like a Japanese dollar store. Here’s the link: http://www.daisojapan.com/

    Another option is an over-the-sink drying rack, like this one: http://amzn.to/2pdRima

    I hope that helps!

  • Lucia Garcia Moliner

    Hi lovely! I have a question, how do you keep the white bits so white? Done many ice dyed tshirts and I cant keep the un-dyed bits pure white!

    • This is such an organic process that i’m not really sure there’s a way to do that. It’s sort of the luck of the draw because it’s based on so many variables: ice melting, the absorbency of the fabric, and even how much the fabric is bunched together. I should suggest doing some test runs (we did sooooo many for this post) until you’re satisfied with how that has turned out. For each test run, change up one variable and see how that helps. It might be as simple as using less ice so that there is less melting and, therefore, less saturation of color. I hope this helps!

  • I’m so glad you like it! We used a piece that measured about 70 inches long x 50 inches wide.

  • It looks like they must have changed the listing since we ordered the fabric. What we used was definitely more ‘white’ than ‘cream!’ It looks like this is another option that is similar, but more of a white shade: http://bit.ly/2opQYMV

    Thanks for calling that out! I am updating the link now :)

    • brandy

      Thanks ! I think this is really cool, I am going to try it!

      • awesome! keep me posted on how it turns out :)

  • connie

    I was wondering instead of the procion dye could use the rit brand instead?

    • I would suggest doing a test run on a similar piece of fabric or fabric scrap to see how it turns out. This is sort of a ‘trial and error’ process, so you never really know how it’s going to turn out! It’s a fun experiment ;)

      If you try it, please be sure to let me know how it turns out!

  • Allison Taylor Hasserd

    AHH! SO PRETTY!! I love how this turned out! i want to find some plum/magenta dye to do my shower curtain!! :) thanks for the post!

    • OOOO that sounds like a great color to try! Be sure to share your photo with us on social media so I can check it out :) Thanks!

  • Casey Ste Croix

    This is just gorgeous! And the perfect look to include in a quilt I am working on. I’ve started the process today, testing on some pillow cases before I use the fabric for the quilt. I am so excited!! Thanks for such a great tutorial!

    • Awesome! I hope it turns out well :)

  • Ally

    *if

  • Ally

    And is it okay in my dye is in Hot Water???

    • Hi Ally, I’d recommend using lukewarm or cold water because hot water will melt the ice too fast and you may not get desirable results. Hope that helps!

  • Ally

    Hi I wanted to Ice dye a tapestry for my room to create a Beachy Vibe Look to it, to make it Look simillar to a Ocean with Waves soooo what dye did you use and where did you Buy it???xD so happy I found your Blog!!! Byeee

    • Hi Ally
      I used these ingredients for the dye:
      soda ash: http://amzn.to/2bcKkmt
      procion dye: http://amzn.to/2bclhoL

      Also, this is a dye technique using ice, so I can’t quarantee the results if you use hot water! It will probably melt the ice too quickly and affect the results of the dye process. I’d suggest doing a test piece to experiment before doing your whole piece of fabric just in case.

      Thanks!

  • Emma

    Could I do this with a colored sheet and bleach?

  • Emma

    Could I do this with a colored sheet and bleach?

    • Bleach reacts totallllly differently than dye, so I’d suggest doing a test piece. That sounds like a fun idea, but it’s definitely VERY experimental!

  • Karoline

    Is this okay to do outside or will the ice melt too quickly in the summer heat?

    • I think it would be ok to do outside, but your results may differ! Could be a fun experiment :) be sure to let me know how it turns out!

  • Chandler

    Would this work on another type of material?

  • Chandler

    Would this work on another type of material?

    • Totally, but different dyes work differently for fabrics, especially synthetics. I’d recommend doing a test piece!

  • This looks awesome! I love the result. Definitely going to try this. Thank you.

    • Thank you! If you do end up making your own, be sure to tag @jojotastic on instagram so I can see!

  • Lynda Heines

    Joanna, Beautiful fabric! I started ice dyeing back in 2011 and need to add to this tutorial for anyone interested in ice dyeing. Please, Please, Please use safety precautions when using soda ash and fiber reactive dyes. Use gloves with soda ash and gloves, and a dust mask or respirator while sprinkling the dye over the ice. Once your spoons, containers, etc. have been used for dyeing, they should not return to the kitchen.

    • Thanks for the reminder!

  • Something Boho

    Love it! I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing

    • so glad you like it! be sure to snap a photo and share on Instagram so we can see!

  • Lindsay Cherie

    Beautiful! What color dye did you use to get that look? Cobalt pops up in the link for Procion Dye, but wanted to check. Also, any insight if this will work on other fabrics besides cotton? Thanks!

    • we used the cobalt blue, but, as you can see, ice dye yields very imperfect results! we used the procion dye for linen and it worked just fine, but i suggest experimenting with disperse dyes if you want to do anything with a synthetic — those just tend to be trickier!