Ice Dyeing with Ugly Colors

Ice Dyeing with "Ugly" Colors

Ice Dyeing has become one of our favorite ways to dye. One of the neatest things about it is how traditionally overlooked colors can really shine; they split and turn into shades you never expect due to the different primary colors they are mixed with. In this tutorial, we will show you what we mean and hopefully help you branch out and up your ice dyeing game.


Let's get started!

Pre-wash your garments or fabric with the Professional Textile Detergent (or Synthrapol). This will remove any fabric softeners, oils, dirt, etc that might have gotten on your dyeable blanks or fabrics during manufacturing or through handling.

Mix up your soda ash, 2 cups per gallon of water, and add in your dyeable items. Let them soak for about 15 min. Pull them out and squeeze out the excess solution (wear good rubber gloves). You can save the soda ash for more dyeing later.

For our fat quarters, we labeled them in sharpie and made little boats of foil to help isolate each color. These can be samples you keep for inspiration later or wonderful for quilting with colors you won't find at the store.

Scrunch up your soda-soaked fat quarters randomly and put them in their boats.

For our T-shirt we did a simple fold and put it on a bit of scrunched foil to lift it up a little from the bottom of the pan, a cookie/baking rack can also be used.

Next, cover everything in a layer of ice. You want to cover the dyeables as much as you can, as areas with no ice will likely end up staying white as the ice melts.

Time to put the dust mask on! We are going to be using the dye powder and we want to be safe about not inhaling any fine particles of dye.

Grab your first color and start sprinkling the dye powder on the ice. Make sure if you are doing samples to put the right color on the right fat quarter. Be as random or as specific as you want with how you spread the dye, the whole point of these is to experiment.

For the shirt, we started with the lighter Safari Gray, sprinkling in patches. Next we worked in the Bronze and Brazil Nut. You can go back to any of the colors and add a little more until all the ice is covered and you are happy with the rough balance of shades.

Once everything is sprinkled to your liking, set them aside and let the melting progress. Putting the tubs in a warm place can speed things up.

Let it all sit this way for 24 hours. This is the HARD part, find something fun to do so you don't find yourself watching the ice melt all afternoon.

Time to see what you got! The fabric in the tub may look like a big pool of black or brown colors. Don't worry, it isn't going to end up all muddy, we promise. The items that were elevated so the melt water could drain away are a little less scary looking.

Take your tubs over to the sink and start rinsing your items in COLD running water. Rinse until the water is running mostly clear.


Finally, toss everything in the wash with HOT water and Professional Textile Detergent or Synthrapol. Dry and wear your ice dyed garment! Or cut and sew your ice dyed fabric!

Color Results: Top Fabric- Brazil Nut, Middle Fabric- Safari Gray, Bottom Fabric- Bronze


Written by Elizabeth Holdmann, Photographed by Kayla Chilvers and Elizabeth Holdmann for Dharma Trading Co.


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