Ice Dyeing to Sew

Lately I’ve been pretty obsessed with dyeing my own fabric for apparel sewing, and it’s really taken my handmade kid’s clothing shop, The Blue Moose, to the next level.

Earlier this month I decided to try my hand at ice dyeing. This time I purchased some nice fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Co, as well as some soda ash, protective face masks, and Telio organic cotton jersey from Amazon.

First I soaked my fabric for 2O minutes in soda ash made as directed on the package in a big plastic storage bin. The colorful pieces you see in here are some of my messed up tie dyes from my previous tie dye experiment. They’re cotton lycra yardage.

I set up two grates and an old kitchen strainer to allow drainage. One of my grates is an old cookie cooling rack over an old serving tray, another is some leftover kitchen wire over a plastic storage container, I’m all about using old stuff from around the house over buying new when I can.

For my first attempts I just used basic twists and scrunches to lay my fabric to keep it simple. The tighter and smaller the folds in the fabric, the more texture you’ll get in the dye.

I used tinfoil to make raised edges around my pieces to keep the ice where I wanted it, and then spread an even layer of ice over top. I used just enough ice to cover the fabric.

At this point I put on my disposable breathing masks to keep from inhaling dye particles and sprinkled color on kind of willy nilly.

Then came the hard part, patience! The dyes sat outside for 24 hours while I longingly awaited my reveal.

Here they are all melted up. I rinsed them with my garden hose until the water ran clear before opening. With the cheap dyes I used in the past, rinsing took forever as the color bled from the fabric, but with these dyes it only took a few minutes because most of the dye was actually absorbed.

Here they are shown wet, just before washing. I machine washed on high heat with detergent, and dried as normal.

I’m SO in love with the final pieces! They turned out super vibrant.

cotton lycra, green and hints of blue dyed over a splotchy yellow dye I had previously ducked up

Organic cotton jersey, dyed with a rainbow color pallet in my old kitchen strainer.

Organic cotton jersey that I tried to do a rainbow stripe with, but I love how the dye just did it’s own thing.

Organic cotton jersey with blue, teal, fuchsia and hints of black. This is my favorite piece of the batch.

This one is a before and after of a dye over a yard of crappy cotton lycra that I did with a tulip lot. Total upgrade from what I had before! I definitely won’t ever go back to the cheap dyes.

I’m so pleased with how everything turned out and I can’t wait to try some more complicated folds and ties with this method!

Here’s a tunic sewn from two of the organic cotton jerseys:

Stay tuned for more adventures in dyeing!

2 thoughts on “Ice Dyeing to Sew

  1. I love what you have done. I wondered if you got particles of undiluted dye powder on your items. I seem to get the occasional spotting

  2. Thank you so much! I did have one little spot I noticed on my second batch where I’m pretty sure I didn’t have enough ice coverage and some concentrated dye powder hit the fabric directly when I was sprinkling it on. I’ve read about other dyers using plastic landscaping edging as resists (instead of the tinfoil like I’ve been using) which probably holds the ice in place a lot better to help prevent that.

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