Why Everyone's Copying This Ice Dye Technique

5 Materials
1 Day

I confess I am a textile addict. Last year I found myself toting a crappy old sheet to the beach or to the park and this year I decided to do something about it! I had seen a couple of pictures floating around online of ice dyed pieces and thought it would give a nice finish to some linen fabric to make a light and easy carry-along blanket or throw. The ice and the dye really do all the crazy work for this easy and addictive dye technique.
SUPPLIES: -1.5-2 Yards of Linen or 100% Cotton (60" bolt length) *If you don't have a sewing machine or don't know how to sew you can also purchase a linen Turkish bath towel on Amazon. -Procion Dye (NOT RIT... Rit is fun for many things, but this has a different chemical makeup and is great for natural fibers and can be done with cold vs a hot bath) -Ice -A Cooling Rack -A Tub / Cooking Tray -A Large Bowl -Plastic Gloves -Soda Ash (a pretreatment wash for fabric to make dye adhere and be colorfast... it will also help keep the color from bleeding... you can get it online or at arts stores or even huge retailers like walmart) -Water
STEP 1: Prepare soda ash mixture Mix 1 cup of soda ash with 1 gallon of water in a large bowl until all the soda ash has dissolved. Don't worry if it sloshes out of the bowl a bit... soda ash wipes right up.

STEP 2: Soak your fabric in mixture Next, submerse your fabric in the soda ash mixture and allow it to soak for 15 minutes. This step is key for allowing your dye to adhere to the fabric fibers. As mentioned above I used a linen fabric, but you can use any natural fiber fabric. A lot of synthetic fibers such as polyester or rayon simply don't take to dye as well so it's best to use something natural. Once the 15 minutes is up wring out all the excess water from your fabric.
STEP 3: Set up your dying rack Now set up for the fun! Set your cooling rack over a tub or cooking tray. I just bought a disposable roasting pan and made sure to secure my cooling rack so that it wouldn't fall. Place your soda ash treated fabric on the cooling rack adding twists and turns throughout to create a more intriguing design.
STEP 4: Cover your fabric with ice It's time to put the ice on! Simply set your ice on top of your fabric all over in a nice little pile. Don't worry if you can't reach the edges of the fabric because the dye will spread throughout as the ice melts.
STEP 5: Sprinkle your dye over the ice Now using a small spoon sprinkle your dye over top of the ice. A little goes a looong way, so don't go crazy with this. Feel free to do a mixture of colors or just one. Either way will turn out just lovely!
STEP 6: Let it sit for 24 hours Time for a true test of patience! Once you have covered your ice in the powder dye you have to let it sit until the ice is completely melted and allow it to rest for 24 hours.
STEP 7: Rinse your fabric Woof... now that all that time has passed we can finally move on and see the results of our labor! Rinse your dyed fabric in cold water until it runs clear and wring out any excess water. *Be sure to use your rubber gloves for this part so that your hands aren't all blue!
STEP 8: Hang your fabric to dry Hang your fabric up to dry. (And marvel at the fun patterns the melting ice has created!) *Keep in mind it will lighten a bit as it dries. Once it has dried you should put your blanket through the wash with detergent on cold. Then toss in the dryer or hang to dry depending on your fabrics fiber content.
STEP 9: Edge (or hem) your fabric [Optional] (This step is for sewing peeps only...If you bought a pre-made blanket there is no need for this step) First, cut any hanging threads from the raw edges of your fabric. Set your sewing machine to the stitch of your choice. I wanted to add some flavor to the edge of my blanket so I decided on a lattice looking stitch.
Now it is time to sew the raw edges of your blanket. I decided I wanted a little bit of fringe around the edges vs. a tucked hem so I simply left the selvage edge untouched and applied my lattice stitch 1/2" from the 2 raw edges of the blanket. This will keep the threads from fraying any further. Once both sides were stitched I took a seam ripper and pulled out all the crossgrain threads that were outside of stitch I had just made. This allows for a slightly fringed looking hem. *You can certainly do a folded hem if you so choose.
This thing looks good inside too! I think I need to make some in various colors and maybe try some rubber band and clipping techniques for some fun patterns as well!
Look at all that great detail! I want to go make 10 more right now!
I seriously can't wait to tote this thing around all summer!
What a perfect little piece to take for a day in the park! You could of course buy extra yards of fabric for a larger crowd as well!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 42 questions
  • Toni Tuyt Carroll
    on Jun 3, 2019

    So you don't need to rinse the soda ash out? Just squeeze out the excess and proceed?

  • Sabina
    on Jun 5, 2019

    I have a king size cotton quilt I was thinking of doing Shibori on but this might be a heck of a lot easier to do given the size. I don't know that I could get enough hot water at one time for the traditional dying method. Thank you for this! How much soda ash do you think I would need for such a large piece of fabric?

  • Sabina
    on Jun 6, 2019

    Is the soda ash the same as Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda?

Join the conversation

2 of 154 comments
  • Patti Askins
    on Jun 7, 2019

    As another old tie-dying hippie, I think this is a wonderful update to the techniques of the "olden days." Maybe not quite so much instant gratification, but gorgeous and you're not tied (pun intended!) to the target pattern you mostly got with tie dye. Also celebrates, in a very different way, the old hippie belief in "better living through science (or was it chemistry?)." Kudos for a most inspiring post!

  • Linda
    on Jul 27, 2019

    What a fabulous look! I'll be trying this! Thanks for your information!

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