Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TUTORIAL: Indigo Ombre Dip-Dye Fabric and Curtains

I've been on such a creative bender lately.  It all started with the chairs, and once I started tackling projects I just couldn't stop.

There's nothing else like the satisfaction of making stuff with your own hands, especially if the results are good (but even when they're not, the process is liberating and instructive!)

I've had stacks of natural linen drapes from the thrift store laying around forever, and wanted to try an indigo dip-dye on them.  This is the perfect summertime DIY since it really should be done outdoors, and the painterly effect of dip-dyeing seems so fresh and hot weather-appropriate!

I started with a pair of clean, thickly-textured linen drapes (use natural fibers only!)  I ignored the directions when they said to start with wet fabric...since I wasn't dyeing the whole piece, I wanted the top dry so it wouldn't "pull" the dye up farther than I wanted it.






I measured about a third of the way from the bottom of the drapes and marked it with paper clips so I knew where to stop "dipping" each piece.

Outside I mixed my dye in a large Rubbermaid tub set next to a stone wall so I could hang the dry, un-dyed part over the wall and let the ends hang into the dye.  I used a "denim blue" powder dye from the craft store and followed the directions for dilution and salt, etc.  Nothing special, and I'm sure I could have gotten more intense or better/faster results by searching out a professional fabric dye.  






I let the ends soak for about an hour and then lowered the drapes in another six inches or so and let that soak for 15-20 minutes more to make a lighter, ombre-esque strip.  I checked the color and it was much too light.  The lighter strip especially was nearly pastel, so I lowered it in again and soaked the whole thing for another hour (light and dark strips together).

Remember as you're checking the progress of the color that it looks much darker wet and the colors will also fade after you rinse the dye out, so wait until it looks much darker than you want in the tub before you pull it out.






At a certain point, the fabric was as saturated as it would get and didn't seem to be darkening more, so don't worry about over dyeing.  I would have liked more intensity, but starting with a white base and using "over-the-counter" powder dye probably limited the depth of color I could achieve.

I wrung out the ends and then laid the drapes out on the grass and used a spray nozzle to rinse them.  Then I hung them over the fence and waited for them to dry.






These are early-morning shots after I impatiently brought the drapes inside and threw them over a curtain rod in the dining room to see how they looked.  I really, really love the ethereal, watercolor effect of the lighter upper layers.






But the moody, darker indigo of the lower end really speaks to me too.  

Pretty much nothing is safe from a potential dye-bath now!


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12 comments:

  1. Look at you all crafty decorista! Nice job! We did some dying recently and used the cold water dyes you mix with soda ash...nice colors if you want to explore those....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, about that...this is a creative mania thing? I'll crash and not make another thing for a year?
      Cold water dye sounds wonderful...any particular brand? Where you been my love??

      Delete
  2. *de-lurks*

    Awesome! I recently bought white cotton Ikea curtains to do exactly this, but then I got scared by other tutorials suggesting that ombre dip dyeing is best left to professionals, or that one should do a lot of experimenting before tackling the actual project. But you make it seem totally doable, and with great results! Thanks for sharing. You've given me confidence to go forth and dip dye.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG, I'm such a slob, totally ignored most of the directions, stuck my hands directly into the dye, was just a total mess, and it turned out GREAT!

      And hey, thanks for coming out!!

      Delete
  3. I am about to do this to a pair of white Ikea curtains, following your tutorial!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Have you washed these curtains in the wash machine yet?
    I haven't, but i had some of the dye drip on to an old towel and after i through it in the wash the color came out more vibrant and i was wondering if it was my imagination or if it would do the same to the curtains??

    ReplyDelete
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