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.
- dish rack
- wash tub
- measuring cup
- plastic gloves
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then the hard part, allow to sit undisturbed for 24-hours.
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.
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 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!
Project and styling by Gwen McKenzie for Jojotastic.
Photography by Meghan Klein.
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