The Goods

DIY fabric dyeing: 2 easy ways to turn your boring basics into works of art

Got a closet full of plain white tees? These DIY fabric dyeing techniques will help you work some much-needed colour into your wardrobe.

Fabric dyeing is an easy, affordable way to turn your boring white clothes into colourful works of art. Two of the hottest trends in fabric dyeing right now use items you likely already own: ice and a microwave. Here's how you can try these techniques out at home — even if it's your first foray into working with fabric:

DIY ice (or snow) dyeing

What you'll need:

  • Rubber (or disposable) gloves
  • Plastic bin
  • Metal cooling rack large enough to rest on top of plastic bin 
  • Ice or snow
  • Powdered fabric dye
  • T-shirt or other item
  • Soda ash (this is necessary for binding dyes to the fiber)

Directions:

  1. Mix one cup of soda ash per 4 litres of hot water. Soak fabric for 30 mins. Squeeze out excess water with gloved hands.
  2. Crumple wet fabric on metal cooling rack.
  3. Cover fabric completely in snow or ice.
  4. Sprinkle dyes over fabric in desired pattern.
  5. Place garbage bag on top and let sit for 24 hours. The garbage bag will help keep the fabric moist longer, and activate the dye properly by keeping it warm.
  6. With gloves on, rinse fabric in cold water. Thoroughly remove all excess dye until the water runs clear. Wash on gentle with similar colours (or hand wash) and hang to dry. Iron on a low setting when slightly damp if needed.

DIY microwave dyeing

What you'll need:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Liquid fabric dye in colour of your choice
  • Bowl for water/vinegar mixture
  • Vinegar
  • Plastic pipettes
  • Silk scarf
  • Clean microwave
  • Plastic wrap

Directions:

  1. Fold silk scarf in desired pattern.
  2. Place the folded silk scarf in a bowl of 2:1 vinegar/water mixture. Squeeze out excess. Do not wring. It is important to wet the silk before dyeing and placing in the microwave, as this helps the dyes blend better and prevents the scarf from getting too dry.
  3. Place in glass bowl or glass baking dish. Add dye in desired pattern using a plastic pipette.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and poke holes to release steam. Heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high (depending on your microwave). Remove bowl with oven mitts.
  5. Keeping scarf folded as it was in the bowl, completely rinse in cold water until water runs clear. Hand wash in warm soapy water, rinse and iron damp with a cotton setting.

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