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

  • dish rack
  • wash tub
  • measuring cup
  • plastic gloves
  • spoon

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

  • Ally

    *if

  • Ally

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

  • 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!