I like to think that I’m a creative person. My career path has meant that I’ve needed to think of inventive ways of marketing some of the most dull products on sale in the country, but creativity doesn’t mean artistic, and that is something I am definitely not. Last weekend, me, my mum and sister (both infinitely more artistic than me) tried our hand at fabric dyeing.
The weather was nice so we set up our table outside in the garden, found the techniques we wanted to try (on Pinterest, obviously), and put on plastic aprons and gloves. We successfully managed four ways of dyeing (with another two that didn’t quite go to plan):
This was remarkably simple to do.
- First I soaked my pillow cases in saltwater to prep them (do this for all of the DIYs shown in the post)
- Then wedge a cooling rack in a bucket so it is slightly raised off the bottom and pick your colours (I went for Bahama Blue, Intense Violet and a little smattering of Flamingo Pink and Sunflower Yellow)
- Scrunch up the pillow cases while they’re still damp and put them on the cooling rack
- Tip two bags of ice over them
- Then sprinkle a variety of dye colours (they come in powder form) over the top (which looks very psychedelic!)
- Cover with a tarpaulin (or something to keep the heat in), and leave for 24 hours
- The ice will have melted in this time and you can pull out your pillow cases, wring them out, wash them thoroughly and admire the result!
My mum went for this, and again it is very simple. You only need the item you’re dyeing, colours of your choice, paintbrushes and some elastic bands.
- Lay your pillow case out flat and hold a fork (or something of a similar shape) upright in the middle
- Twist the fork so the pillow case is curled around it
- Place elastic bands over to hold in place (these create the patterns so add as many or as little as you like)
- Mix your dyes according to the instructions on the packet and paint each section as you like
- Leave for a couple of hours (resting it somewhere that won’t stain!)
- When finished, take the elastic bands off and you should have a very 90s skater vibe design
This was my sister’s turn, a mix of inspiration from the internet and artistic license! All you need is your item to dye, prepared colours and a paintbrush.
- Crumple up your t-shirt and hold in place with various elastic bands
- Mix up your dyes
- Dab on the areas you want to dye
- Leave for a few hours and ta-dah!
After a couple of failed attempts on other items, my mum and sister found some old white t-shirts we could experiment on. Mum tried the ombre effect and it ended up looking really good once it had dried. Just don’t do this on a dirty work surface or it’ll all soak through the damp fabric (as we found out the hard way!).
- Lay your item out completely flat
- Use a paintbrush to paint a dark, thick line of dye across the bottom
- Then use a wide, damp, clean brush to drag the colour from the bottom, up to the top creating a gradient look. Easy peasy!
It was a lovely afternoon and even inspired my mum to grab an old table cloth and dunk it in some blue dye there and then, knowing how easy and effective the outcome would be. I thought it would be labour and time intensive, but actually it’s probably the simplest way of changing up an old dress or a set of napkins that have been sat in the cupboard wanting some love.
Thanks to Dylon for sending me the dyes and pillow cases to get creative with. All opinions are honest and unbiased and very much my own. So there.
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