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DIY Ice Dye Pillows | How to Ice Dye

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!

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

Why I Made So Many DIY Ice Dyed Pillows…

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.

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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.

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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!

Easy Ice Dye Pillow Tutorial | @danslelakehouse

Supplies for Ice Dyeing Fabric:

Ice Dyeing FAQ:

Can I 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 I 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.

Below you will find the condensed ice dye instructions, then I’ll discuss the steps, with my best ice dyeing tips, in more detail below.

How to Ice Dye Fabric:

  1. Launder fabric.
  2. Mix up 1 cup of soda ash in 4 litres of water in a bucket.
  3. Soak the fabric in the soda ash solution for 1/2 hour.
  4. Set up a cookie cooling rack at the bottom of a laundry tub or large basin.
  5. Prop up the rack if the water cannot immediately drain.
  6. Wring out the fabric and scrunch and twist it.
  7. Place it onto the cookie rack.
  8. Cover completely with ice.
  9. Sprinkle on the fiber reactive dye.
  10. Allow the ice to melt (just leave it overnight)
  11. Once the ice melts completely, rinse the fabric thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear.
  12. 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.  

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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.  I usually set up the ice dyeing in the afternoon, let it melt and sit overnight, and then rinse the fabric in cool water (until the water ran clear) the next morning.  Afterwards I 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?

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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:

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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!

The Finished Ice Dyed Fabric:

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

There is so much variation in the color and design!  It looks like I’m staring into the depths of Lake Superior at dusk…

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

What is Dye Splitting?

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!

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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.

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

The Perfect Down Alternative Pillow Inserts

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).

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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.

DIY Ice Dye Pillows | @danslelakehouse

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!  Find all of my ice dyed projects here.

DIY Ice Dyed Pillows | @danslelakehouse

Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

DIY Ice Dye Pillow Tutorial

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31 Comments

  1. Staci @ My Friend Staci
    August 16, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    BEAUTIFUL!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 16, 2016 / 5:56 pm

      Thank you πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous
    August 16, 2016 / 6:00 pm

    Wow, the vibrant colors look so good! Another great creation:) How great that you guys have your sailboat!!!Amy in MN

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 16, 2016 / 8:02 pm

      Thanks Amy!! I'm so excited to finally sail home this week. It was a bit more work than we expected to get the boat ready (that seems to happen with every project, lol).

    • Anonymous
      August 17, 2016 / 3:22 pm

      Be safe and have fun! Hey, I received the prize pack, drill + saw=Wow! I emailed you a thank you too:) so fun to win! Thx again!!!Amy in MN

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 17, 2016 / 9:15 pm

      Yay!! So happy you like the prize pack! I was really excited when I drew your name πŸ™‚

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 17, 2016 / 9:15 pm

      Yay!! So happy you like the prize pack! I was really excited when I drew your name πŸ™‚

  3. sarajane
    August 16, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    Those are utterly gorgeous! Isn't ice-dyeing addictive?

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 16, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Thank you!! SOOO addictive!!

  4. LMoore
    August 16, 2016 / 7:47 pm

    I have all the stuff to try this but lazy me, still have not done it. I bought all the stuff after your last project. I have the larger size of the dye kits as I want to try to get a bright coral orange color. Not sure what to mix as the color I am going for is more orange than pink. Probably just need to go for it and see what I get.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 16, 2016 / 8:06 pm

      Don't worry, sometimes it takes me forever to get started too. Getting the supplies is half the job! I'd say just experiment. You can try a mini version with a scrap of cloth in a yogurt tub to play around with it. I hope you show me the results when you're done, I'd love to see!!

  5. UptoDateInteriors
    August 17, 2016 / 11:16 pm

    These are beautiful!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 19, 2016 / 2:31 am

      Thank you!! I'm so happy with how they turned out πŸ™‚

  6. francisca moyano
    September 5, 2016 / 8:27 pm

    hi !! I am from Chile and I have never heard of Soda wash, do you know something to replace it with ?? thanks so much !

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      September 6, 2016 / 12:20 am

      If you use a different all purpose dye, like Rit powder, you can skip this. Soda ash works with the particular cold water procion dye I bought. But here's some more info on soda ash:"Soda ash is the active ingredient in washing soda. The chemical name for it is sodium carbonate, chemical formula Na2CO3. It is more basic, that is, less acidic, than sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), whose chemical formula is NaHCO3. The purpose of sodium carbonate is simply to increase pH. Soda ash changes the pH of the fiber-reactive dye and cellulose fiber so that the dye reacts with the fiber, making a permanent connection that holds the dye to the fiber. It actually activates the fiber molecules so that they can chemically attack the dye. (It can also be used with silk, but not other protein fibers such as wool.)" – from this website: http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/sodaash.shtmlWherever you purchase the dye from, chat with the shop owners about what kind of treatment to use first so the dye grabs the fabric best.

  7. Eden Passante
    September 7, 2016 / 4:17 pm

    These are the perfect addition to any living room!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      September 7, 2016 / 5:21 pm

      Thanks so much! I'm so tempted to make some more for my home…

  8. Mara
    July 12, 2018 / 12:10 pm

    Hi! I tried this project but I didn’t get white spots like you did. Everything sort of blended once I rinsed the fabric. How were you able to make it look so define? I think I might be doing something wrong…

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      Author
      July 15, 2018 / 10:26 pm

      I would guess that you used too much dye? I try to use the dye very sparingly. Also, make sure you fabric is really scrunched up and that it doesn’t sit in the water once the ice has melted. If there’s no where for the ice to drain once it melts, it will just create a dye bath. So that’s my best guess, not seeing how you did it: scrunch the fabric more, use less powdered dye, and make sure the melted ice can immediately drain away from the fabric.

  9. Sahal Abraham
    November 5, 2019 / 12:26 pm

    hi, i’d love to try this, one question, can i do this with natural indigo dye powder?

  10. Trudy
    June 3, 2020 / 6:56 pm

    Hi Tanya,

    I grew up in Michigan and love the water, too. Nobody has lakes as clear and blue as ours!

    I am trying to too emulate your ice dyeing prowess! I practiced on a pillow case, when I rinsed it the white areas turned blue, too πŸ™ What should I have done differently? I am doing my sheet next.

    Please and thank you.

    PS I, too, buy houses that need love and enjoy re-purposing things creatively. I just signed up for your newsletter to see what you are up to next!

    • June 3, 2020 / 10:59 pm

      Hi Trudy,

      It’s true, ours is the best lake! πŸ™‚

      Hmmmmm, the white will tint ever-so-slightly but it never turned blue for me. My questions would be to make sure you did the soda ash bath first? And rinsed really, really well? I work sort of quickly while rinsing. If the dye “sat” in the bath after the ice melted, it would tint other areas as well, so it needs to be elevated. And you laundered after? Did you use the same dye as me?

      It’s difficult for me to “diagnose” (haha) without knowing what you did so if none of these suggestions seem like the culprit, feel free to outline your steps and maybe I can spot the problem.

      (And thank you for signing up for the newsletter! I love connecting with other DIYers and re-purposers (which should be a word).

  11. Trudy
    June 4, 2020 / 2:55 pm

    Back again. So I completed my ice dyeing project and it is as disappointing as my practice project. When I rinse the sheet all the dye mixes together into the same boring color. The dark parts fade and the light parts darken. The only thing I can think of is that I didn’t let it sit overnight. When the ice melted and I could see the colors had spread I rinsed. Do you think that is what I did wrong?
    It won’t let me attach my pic πŸ™

    • June 4, 2020 / 10:36 pm

      Thanks for providing a bit more info, I do think rinsing too soon is probably the culprit. I have dyed a lot this way and have tended to set it melting overnight and the dye “sat” on the fabric probably longer than what you’re doing. You can probably lift the dye by washing with some bleach and try again. If you’re doing everything else the same (the soda ash bath, the same brand dye), then rinsing it right away is what I think is the problem. My only other idea would be the color dye you’re using. Some of the Procion dyes created a better ice dye effect than others – and I found some variation in their dyes. Some “grip” better.

  12. Trudy
    June 5, 2020 / 8:42 am

    Hi Tanya,

    Yes to soda ash, yes to Procion dye, yes to raised fabric on a rack, yes laundered after. I kept fabric in same “pile” and sprayed from above before submerging thinking that might get out most of the dye so it would transfer less to white parts. The only difference I can think of is not letting the dye sit on it overnight. Do you always leave the dye on that long?

    Please and thank you!

    • June 5, 2020 / 12:45 pm

      Hi Trudy, I am thinking back and I think I do leave it on that long each time, because if I dye during the day it “hogs” my laundry sink so I do set it going in the PM and then let it melt overnight and then rinse it the next morning. When I rinse it, the ice has long melted. And I rinse it in the sink and move it around to handle a big amount of fabric. Then launder right away.

  13. Yara
    July 4, 2020 / 9:18 am

    Hi, i was wondering what is the technique exactly? Do i just scrunch it randomly and are the scrunches small or should i make bigger ones or a variation of both? Sorry i know i sound dumb but i loved what you did and want to try to get mine to be similar.

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