This is NOT your mom's 70's tie dye. If you've wanted to bring life to an old silk shirt that's hasn't seen the light of day since 2005, here is the one technique that you can use to make it from drab to fab. Say hello to ice dying! You can thank us later.
So, I’m about to air my dirty laundry (pun intended). I had been keeping this embarrassing, super old, formerly-white silk shirt sitting in the back of my closet for ages. I never got rid of it because it was one of the first expensive things I bought myself, and it had been with me through three cross-country moves, two ex-boyfriends, and a trip through Europe. As much wear as I had gotten out of it, it was thrashed. I mean, spaghetti splatters, wine stains, yellowing pits (don’t judge, we’re all humans) – the works. But still, I freaking loved that shirt and couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it.
So imagine my joy when I discovered this SUPER chic fabric dye technique called ice dyeing! Finally, a fashionable way to give new life to my old go-to. In addition to other dying projects that I’ve done, like upgrading these faux sheepskin rugs into a high-end home decor accessory, ice dye is kind of like tie dye’s fashion-forward BFF. It’s a similar idea, but the fabric comes out looking like a watercolor painting. More ‘art’. Less ‘craft’.
Follow along to see how I used the ice dye technique on my old silk shirt and on a brand new H&M button down to create two totally different, but equally gorgeous options! Not only that, it was a perfect addition to these hardware chain earrings and fringe skirt that we made, as well!
Step 1: Make sure your shirts are clean and dry. White works really well to see the dye color at the end, but you do you! Experiment! A note on fabric; we used both a cotton/silk blend which took the color really well and a rayon blend shirt that ended up looking much softer and more ethereal. If you want a more vibrant look, choose a natural fabric and if you want a softer pastel color choice, go synthetic. You’ll see what we mean in a sec!
Step 2: Wearing rubber gloves, mix 1/3 cup soda ash with 1 quart (approx 1 liter) of warm water. Soak your shirt in the mixture for about 15-20 minutes. Soda ash is what makes the dye stay on the fabric after you wash it.
Step 3: Place a drying rack on the bottom of a deep pan or bowl (there needs to be enough room for the ice to melt into the pan underneath). After the shirt is done soaking, wring out the excess liquid and scrunch the shirts up on top of the drying racks. The more tightly scrunched they are, the more defined the dye pattern is!
Step 4: Time for these shirts to take on the ice bucket challenge! Dump as much ice as you can on top of the shirts to completely cover them with a nice thick layer of cubes.
Step 5: Keep those gloves on and carefully sprinkle the different colors of dye in patches all over the ice. Beware: those little flecks of powder dye can stain, so maybe wear something you don’t care about getting messy. Leave the whole she-bang like this overnight and let the ice melt down into the tray underneath. When the ice melts, the dye color seeps slowly into the fabric and creates a super cool watercolor look.
Step 6: Once the ice has melted completely, transfer the shirt into a bucket and rinse out with cold water. Keep rinsing and wringing out the shirt until the water runs clear. Heads up, you’re still in the splash zone so keep those gloves and apron on!
Step 7: Let air dry completely then tumble dry on low to get out any wrinkles. Then go out and strut your stuff in your new crazy-cool ice dye masterpiece!
Seriously, I cannot wait to rock this look everywhere from the office to date night. Also, I’m kind of addicted to this ice dye thing.
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