If you saw my recent post about how to ice dye, and are looking for a chic iced dyed home decor project idea, check out these gorgeous DIY ice dye pillows I made. You’re definitely going to want to pick up a bag of ice tonight!
If you’re wondering why I made so many, they’re for the boat! We (finally) launched our sailboat on Sunday! Click here to take a tour and see all of the updates I’ve made to the interior of our vintage sailboat. You can see how cute these indigo ice dyed pillows look with the indigo upholstery.
Why does a sailboat need pillows? Well, I wanted to make a bunch of cushy, cozy pillows to make the cabin more comfy for lounging, but also for overnight sailing trips – our boat sleeps 6! I didn’t want to have to store sleeping pillows, so I figured I’d make them pretty and then they wouldn’t need to be stashed. I was tempted by shibori, but after I learned how to ice dye – and loved the results! – I decided that inky blue DIY ice dye pillows would look perfect in the boat. I love the watery, tie dyed look. They complement the Loft Indigo upholstery fabric I chose so perfectly.
For anyone who missed my how to ice dye tutorial, the steps are SO simple but, after a little experimenting, I have a few more ice dyeing tips to share! So if you want to learn how to make DIY ice dye pillows, keep reading!
- White fabric (I used a linen/cotton blend)
- Cookie cooling rack
- Wash basin/bin large enough to fit cooling racks (I used my laundry sink)
- Empty water bottles or cans (to prop up rack – optional)
- Bucket (with litre or gallon measurements is ideal)
- Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion Dye (I used “blueberry”)
- Soda Ash
- Rubber gloves
- Dust mask
- Measuring cup
- Disposable spoon
- Stir stick
Notes on Supplies:
Can you use liquid dye to ice dye? The dye is the most important supply: any dye powder designed to work in cold water will work, but I find the fiber reactive dye by Procion works better than Rit Dye. I also find a single dye color works best for the first time, because you will likely experience ice dye splitting (more than one color popping out). But then you can experiment with combining colors (just think about what the colors will look like mixed together when choosing dye colors).
What material can you ice dye? For fabrics, ice dyeing works best on natural fabrics so choose natural fibers: a blend or 100% fiber content of cotton, linen, silk, etc., will take the dye really beautifully.
How Long Does ice dyeing take? Depending on the temperature, it typically takes overnight for all of the ice to melt, and then some additional time on top of that to prepare the natural fiber fabric and also launder afterwards.
Here are the ice dye instructions in a nutshell, then I’ll discuss the steps, with my best ice dyeing tips, in more detail below.
How to Ice Dye Fabric:
- Launder fabric.
- Mix up 1 cup of soda ash in 4 litres of water in a bucket.
- Soak the fabric in the soda ash solution for 1.2 hour.
- Set up a cookie cooling rack at the bottom of a laundry tub or large basin.
- Prop up the rack if the water cannot immediately drain.
- Wring out the fabric and scrunch and twist it.
- Place it onto the cookie rack.
- Cover completely with ice.
- Sprinkle on the fiber reactive dye.
- Allow the ice to melt.
- Once the ice melts completely, rinse the fabric thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear.
- Wash the fabric in the washing machine, alone or with like colors.
More Detailed Ice Dye Instructions:
Just like last time, I laundered my fabric and then let it soak in soda ash for half an hour (1 cup of soda ash per 4 liters of water – which is why a bucket with measurements marked on it is handy). Gloves and a dust mask are important because that soda ash is really dusty. Last time I used a bin to dye, but this time I worked right in my (already dyed) laundry tub because I had a lot of fabric to wrangle. If you use a bin, it’s important that the rack is raised high enough that the fabric won’t sit in the melted ice because that will ruin the ice dyed look. Once the fabric had soaked, I wrung it out and then I twisted, scrunched and smooshed it before placing it on the cookie sheet rack on the bottom of my laundry sink. The more the fabric can be twisted and wrinkled, the better.
Tip #1: Prop up the cookie rack with something if you think the melted ice might pool beneath it – you want the ice water to flow away from the fabric as it melts, not create a dye bath for the ice to sit in. In this case, it went right down the drain, but when I used a smaller basin to ice dye, I propped the rack up really high.
Tip #2: The taller the fabric heap, the whiter the bottom layers will remain, the flatter the fabric heap, the more evenly distributed
the dye will be.
With the fabric arranged, I covered it in ice and, wearing a dust mask and rubber gloves again, sprinkled on my powdered dye with a plastic spoon. Then all I had to do was wait for the ice to melt, rinse the fabric in cool water until the water ran clear, and then launder with like colors!
Tip #3: Any place the dye hits the fabric directly, instead of landing on the ice, first, the dye will be more concentrated and although the dye will blur a bit, the end result will be quite different – see those specks?
Tip #4: Try ice dyeing with a single color first. After my last ice dye project, I realized that I liked the single color ice dyed napkins I made the best:
So for this DIY ice dye pillow project I tried a single color and was pleasantly surprised when another color popped up in the dyeing process. If you’re new to ice dyeing, I recommend starting with one color and then experimenting with adding different colors once you know how they’ll turn out.
Tip #5: Although I liked my ice dyed napkins, I realized that working with one large piece of fabric produced way more interesting results that dyeing a small batch of napkins. With one large piece of fabric, I could really twist and scrunch and ended up with really dark areas (the top) and really light areas (the bottom), whereas with the smaller napkins the dye was more uniform. The pattern was just more interesting and varied this time around!
Here’s a look at the finished fabric, after I rinsed, laundered and dried it:
There is so much variation in the color and design! It looks like I’m staring into the depths of Lake Superior at dusk…
The small waves of pink are actually a happy accident – that’s called ice dye splitting! With procion dyes, I have learned to be surprised by the colors that pop out – in my ice dyeing this time around, some pink popped up in my blueberry dye, which is serendipitous because I was actually thinking about adding some blush pink to our sailboat interior – I loved Emily Henderson’s living room, when it had a pretty navy and soft pink palette. But I vetoed pink, thinking it wasn’t “nautical” enough – but then the pink found its way to me in these DIY ice dye pillows!
For the backs of my DIY ice dyed pillows, I was lucky enough to find a warm beige and a purple-tinged grey linen. I bought all of my fabrics from a local fabric shop and the selection was limited but I found what I wanted. The beige backs really tie together the blue upholstery with the beige boat interior.
For the pillow inserts for my DIY ice dye, I was originally thinking about down because, in my limited experience, I found that synthetic pillow inserts don’t keep their shape; after buying one or two synthetic pillow forms, I just always stuck with dependable down. When I started chatting with Ronco Furniture about collaborating, their down department cautioned against the use of down on a sailboat, citing mold and dampness as major concerns. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about that, so I’m really grateful for their expertise! Instead of down, they recommended something called “angel hair”. They generously sent me 10 pillow forms in the sizes I needed (four 16″x16″, two 18″x18″, two 20″x20″, two 22″x22″), and stuffed them 10% more than their standard (because I routinely buy a pillow form a size or two larger for an extra firm pillow, stuffed to the gills).
When the pillows arrived, I was really surprised by the weight of them – they feel much like a densely packed down pillow. They are so comfy and they really fill the pillows our beautifully – I can even karate chop them (down on the left, angel hair on the right)! I am so impressed with Ronco Furniture, and the fact that these pillow forms are manufactured in the United States.
Learn How to Sew a Throw Pillow:
Check out this post if you want to learn how to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper – like these ones! Now that you know how to ice dye and have seen a couple of my ice dyed projects, will you give this a try? I’d love to see your ice dyed creations!
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