The DIY ice dyed pillows I’m showing you today might just be my favorite DIY dyeing project – ever!
We (finally) launched our sailboat on Sunday! We haven’t sailed it home yet, but we’re almost ready for the five hour journey. This week I’ll be sharing a tour of the updates I’ve made to the interior of our boat – which includes these beautiful DIY ice dye pillows:
You might have already caught a glimpse of my ice dyed pillows – and the new blue boat upholstery – on Instagram.
I wanted to make a bunch of cushy, cozy pillows to make the cabin of the boat 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 ice dyed pillows would look perfect in the boat – and pair well with the Loft Indigo upholstery fabric I chose.
For anyone who missed my ice dye tutorial, the steps are SO simple but, after a little experimenting, I have a few more tips to share!
- 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 liter 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
How to Ice Dye:
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. 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.
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 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!
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!
For the backs of my 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 (new) 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, 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, that I asked them to send over a little baggie of each kind of pillow form stuffing they use and sit down (pun not intended) for a Q&A about pillow forms – because I, for one, have a lot to learn! I’m excited to show you the guts of throw pillows and help explain which fill is best for which application. Look for that post soon, and let me know if you have any questions for the pros!
P.S. Check out this post if you want to learn how to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper – like these ones!