Why Everyone's Copying This Ice Dye Technique

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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 45 questions
  • Jessica
    on Feb 27, 2020

    Hello, Amanda!

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful project of yours.

    I would love to know the brand of procion dye that you purchased and the exact color that you used. Online I see a variety of blues but I would love to get something as close to yours as possible.

    Thank you!

  • Debbie Rose
    Debbie Rose
    on Jun 4, 2020

    Step #2 said to mix your fabric in mixture then to soak in the soda ash water. What mixture did you mean. Step #7 said to rinse your fabric Woof. I am not too sure if you mean an actual product or are just making a joke. I am a very literal person and just want to make sure I understand your directions.

    • Mary Lou
      Mary Lou
      on Jun 27, 2020

      I think she meant like -PHEW, after having to wait 24 hours, like an expression. I am very literal too and always read too much in to stuff!! :)

  • Mary Smith
    Mary Smith
    on Jul 3, 2020

    Could I just use a good fabric dye like Rit?

    • Pjo26908388
      on Sep 13, 2020

      Procion dye is specific to use with soda ash, cotton (or other natural fibers) and ice (or cold temperature dying) The colors are vibrant and hold with the technique as explained. They are superior to Rit, but if you have some Rit give it a try. 😊

Join the conversation

2 of 160 comments
  • DarthPagan
    on Jun 5, 2020

    You left out a critical step. Washing the item FIRST. Most fabrics have sizing in them which will prevent the dye from working right or fixing to the fabric properly, keeping it from staying colorfast.

    The item needs to be machine washed at least once before starting.

  • Susan Beery
    Susan Beery
    on Nov 6, 2020

    Washed & dried first, but leave out the fabric softener or dryer sheets

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