The colour took really well to my viscose knit fabric (below), but the colour combo itself doesn’t particularly speak to me (totally my own fault)! I might turn this fabric into some summery knit PJs.
You can also see the white seersucker that I dyed above. I love the way that the great texture of the seersucker continues to play on the dye. I wonder about turning this into a really dramatic dress with lots of gathering.
I think my favourite outcome came from dyeing this shirt though. Because it was already constructed, the dye pattern plays across the shirt really seamlessly, and I really like how it obscures the different pattern pieces.
You can see here how the dye continues from the yoke down to the back piece. I enjoy how it looks like I’ve really nailed pattern matching.
I’d love to experiment with some more already-constructed-clothing. Maybe socks, beanies, and some other garments which aren’t in my favourite shades!
It helped to have everything set up so that once the soaking was done, I was ready to go.
The corrugated cardboard collars needed to be taped to stay in its circular form and it would have been more useful if I had cut them higher so that they acted as a barrier for even more ice.
I used 1 bag of ice, which I had crushed on the ground (still in the bag) to separate the ice cubes as much as possible. I could/should have used more to totally cover the fabrics. If you sprinkle the powdered dye directly onto the fabric then you get powder dye spots rather than the renaissance cloud texture of the ice dye.
Note: I did not use gloves for any step because I’m a rebel, but the inside of my fingernails are still showing the dye colours… You should also use a mask while handling the dye powder.
The fun part: dyeing
Of course, the best part of this project is sprinkling the Procion MX powdered dye onto the ice!
Wearing a mask, sprinkle your Procion PX dye over the ice with a spoon. You can add multiple colours, but remember that neighbouring colours will blend together as they melt. That may or may not make colours that you enjoy.
Keep your colour-theory in mind when choosing colours to put onto the same fabric, as the blending of your colours could give you muddy browns which might not be what you were aiming for.
Colour splitting with the dye powder
Once of the luck-of-the-draw things about ice dyeing is the colour split that happens! You can see in the pictures below that there are spots of yellow and blue and pinks and burgundy- this is from a selection of colours that were all pinks and warm blacks and browns. Basically, each powdered dye is made up of lots of other colours of powder, and within a burgundy dye pot you might get specks of yellow and blue and other colours (you know, because of that whole primary colours making other colours thing)!
So, although I guessed some colour combos that I thought would be nice together, it was also quite nice to watch those sub-colours popping out as the dyes split. I think this happened more when the powder touched the fabric directly (instead of melting with the ice), so you can lean into it if you would like.
Time to wait!
Then you need to wait patiently for your ice to melt. Keep your ice out of the sun though as having it melt too quickly can change affect your results! I waited overnight for my ice to melt and came back the following morning to take the next steps- stay tuned!
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 and also includes easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions!
If you want more info, Check out my 2-page PDF which rounds up places in NZ to shop the supplies and has an easy-to-follow 1 page set of instructions for ice dyeing.
The Procion MX dyes come in a wide variety of colours, and I’ve been slowly purchasing different colours as I spotted them on sale during the year. I used different dyes for the 3 different buckets that I set up:
Waikerie Shirt: bubblegum, hot pink, brown rose
Seersucker: magenta, burgundy, chocolate brown, warm black
Viscose Knit: pale aqua, aquamarine, hot pink, emerald
You can see below how the colours split- the blue and yellow spots came from my Waikerie Shirt bucket which was 3 different shades of pink!
Rinse & wash
Once your ice has melted, rinse in cold water till the water runs clear. Jacquard, the company who makes the Procion MX dyes, recommends rinsing in increasingly warm water until it’s as hot as you can stand. Then you want to wash in the washing machine on a hot cycle. You can use a product like Synthrapol or other soap meant for dyeing (I recommend different products in my 2-page PDF on ice dyeing).
Although there wasn’t many white-spots on the fabric after the ice had melted, after the rinsing and the wash, a lot of the excess colour had washed out and had left me with some nice undyed sections, which I’m pleased about.
Want to do your own dyeing?
Check out my 2-page PDF which rounds up places in NZ to purchase sodium carbonate and the Procion MX dyes at the cheapest price. There’s also a 1 page document with step-by-step instructions- great for printing out and following along with whole you’re dyeing!
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!
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.
Procion MX dyes. These are powdered dyes which work with natural fibres.
Soda ash/sodium carbonate (10g per litre of water)
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!
I basically used what I had on hand, but had also purchased some extra cake racks for the project!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Keep an eye out for the next installment, which will step you through the dyeing and rinsing process!