Ice dyeing equipment

Is Ice dyeing the perfect summer project? I’ve been planning to give it a whirl for a while, and I finally bit the bullet, after spending quite a bit of time researching! I settled on a method of dyeing that works on natural-fibre fabrics, since that’s what I sew and wear!

Over the next week-or-so there’ll be some blog posts popping up which will show the process behind the ice dyeing, but I’ve also put together a 2-page PDF which is available here!

How-to Ice-dye PDF

My pay-what-you-want PDF download steps you through ice dyeing natural-fibre fabrics using Procion MX dyes.

There’s 1 page of step-by-step instructions and handy tips and the 2nd page lists NZ-based suppliers for the Procion MX powdered dye and the soda ash/sodium carbonate who stock the products for much cheaper than at your big-box-sewing-stores.

The ingredients

  • Procion MX dyes. These are powdered dyes which work with natural fibres.
  • Soda ash/sodium carbonate (10g per litre of water)
  • Water
  • Ice

Soda ash solution

You can save the soaking water with the soda ash/sodium carbonate and reuse it. Next time I will put mine into a strong lidded bucket and keep it on hand.

Where to buy Soda ash in NZ?

Check out my 2-page PDF which rounds up places in NZ to purchase sodium carbonate and where in NZ sells the cheapest Procion MX dyes!

Equipment

I basically used what I had on hand, but had also purchased some extra cake racks for the project!

Racks

You’re going to want some kind of rack that allows the water from the melting ice to drip away and not pool under your fabric.

Buckets

I used these tall buckets because they’re what I had, but also because they gave me the room to pop some old torn cotton sheets below to catch the colourful drips (more on that later). I suppose you could just let it drip onto your lawn?

Spoons

You probably also want some spoons you don’t love for sprinkling the dye on the ice. I used a kitchen spoon because I’m a rebel.

Optional cardboard rings

The corrugated cardboard & tape wraps around your fabric and helps you to pile high your ice and have it stop falling off. Next time I would make my cardboard a bit wider so that it held more ice.

Fabrics

I dyed cotton seersucker fabric, a white linen Waikerie Shirt and viscose/spandex knit. These were all pre-washed.

Preparing your fabrics

NB you should wear gloves and a mask when working with the soda ash and the procion powdered dye, basically because if you inhale it often then it’s not good.

Pre-washing?

There’s all kinds of info about washing your fabrics in something like synthrapol before soaking them in the soda ash. I did not. All of my fabrics had previously been pre-washed in the natural, low-ph, enzyme free washing powder (which is just what I always use to extend the life of my me-made clothes). So, I skipped any additional washing and I jumped straight to soaking in soda ash.

I filled a big bucket with water (which I guessed was enough to cover all the fabrics). The inside of the bucket indicated the number of litres so I added the soda ash according to the ratio 10g of soda ash per litre of water or approx 1 cup per 3.79L of water.

Stir to dissolve the soda ash (use gloves), and then pop your fabric in for 20-minutes. Gently squeeze out excess liquid, crumple into a ball and then move to the next stage.

Note: You can save soda ash solution for use over and over again if you intend to do lots of ice dyeing.

Stay tuned

Keep an eye out for the next installment, which will step you through the dyeing and rinsing process!

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