I recently attempted ice dyeing, and also playing around with Color Magnet. I wanted to see what would happen if I used Color Magnet on fabric before tie-dyeing it, how the random pattern from tie-dye would look. The end result is – it looks great.
Ice Dyeing – is a form of tie-dyeing where you soak your fabric or garment in soda ash, scrunch it on top of a rack, pile ice (or snow if you have it) on top. You then sprinkle as many colours of procion dye over the ice and leave it for 12-24 hours. The ice melts and carries the dye to the fabric in a random tie-dye pattern. You then rinse the item out, wash with synthrapol and it’s done. There’s a good tutorial on ice dyeing at Dharma Trading
You will need to use powder Procion Dyes for this – not liquid, Rit, or Dylon dyes. Only procion. You can buy procion dyes in Australia from KraftColour and in the US from Dharma Trading – if you click on the ice dye link above there will be links to their dyes.
Color Magnet – is a yellow substance that reminds me of the slime we played with as kids. But runnier. It’s applied to the fabric before dying, using a stencil, stamp, or as I did, an old credit card. Actually, I think it may have been a membership card. Whatever. Allow it to dry and then dye the fabric as you usually would. The areas with the Color Magnet on attracts and bond more dye particles than the rest of the fabric, resulting in a much darker pattern. I bought mine from Unique Stitching at one of the craft shows here in Perth this year.
Color Magnet and Ice-Dyed Tshirt Tutorial
Here’s what I did:
I started with a cotton/bamboo jersey fabric from Spotlight. When I bought it, I thought it was a cotton jersey – it was in with all the cottons – but had a bit of a shock when it rang up at double the price I was expecting – and I’d bought 5m of it. When I queried the price and where I’d found the fabric the lady behind the counter just shrugged and told me I should have checked the label, just because it’s in with the cottons doesn’t mean it is a cotton.
I’d already decided that I was going to use the Jalie Dolman Top pattern for this. I’ve made several of these before, I know the pattern fits, it’s quick and easy, and I didn’t want a fussy pattern – the fabric was going to be loud enough as it was. So I grabbed the pattern pieces, worked out how much fabric I needed and cut it width of the fabric (150cm) by the length, plus a bit more for fudging, rolled edges and to give me a bit of leeway. Very technical measurements. If you look at the fabric you’ll see I didn’t even manage to get it all that straight. Which is going to cause issues next time I want to use some of it. You’d think I’d know to be more careful.
I did think to be careful of my good dining table, and put down a layer of plastic tablecloth underneath before I began working. Hooray for common sense. Usually this is the kind of thing I think of only after I have paint/glue/tape/other messy medium all over the place.
I only wanted to use the Color Magnet on the front of the shirt, so I folded the fabric in half and stuck a strip of blue painters tape down the length to mark the halfway. On one side, I then used my quilting rule and more of the blue painters tape – I have about five different widths of it – to mark out randomly spaced stripes on the fabric.
The painters tape only goes to the halfway mark. Using a plastic card such as an expired membership card (don’t keep expired credit cards around, they should be destroyed, not used for crafting) I slurped out some Color Magnet and wiped it along the fabric lines. The painters tape stops it getting on the rest of the fabric, just be careful to hold the Color Magnet container over the area you plan to put it on, as it does drip rather badly.
Once the Color Magnet dried I pulled off all the painters tape, leaving me with lovely yellow lines. The yellow is only so you can see where it’s been applied, no trace of it remains after the dyeing and washing. Being impatient, I used my hair dryer to help the drying along, while hubby went to get me a bag of ice.
Next step is to begin the dyeing. When tie-dyeing, usually you soak the fabric in the dye solution, then add the soda ash. When ice-dying, this is reversed, you soak the fabric for 15 minutes in the soda ash, then it’s dyed. This is where I thought I may have issues, I didn’t know if the soda ash would affect the Color Magnet or not. I thought it may wash it out, worst case I would end up with tie-dyed fabric without any trace of the Color Magnet. I used roughly two litres of water and a heaped 1/2 cup measure of soda ash (Note: if you’re dyeing, buy your soda ash from Bunnings or Masters. It’s in the pool aisle and is waaay cheaper than from a craft shop)
ALWAYS REMEMBER TO WEAR RUBBER GLOVES WHEN WORKING WITH DYES!!! SAFETY FIRST!!!
After the fabric has soaked for 15 minutes take it out of the bucket, wring it gently to get most of the liquid out. You’re not wringing it dry here, just removing the soda ash liquid that will run off quickly.
Scrunch the fabric on top of the draining rack. I used a cake rack that fits nicely inside my laundry sink. I attempted to get the fabric fairly evenly on the rack, so it would be dyed evenly without too much difference between the front and the back. That didn’t work out so well. Meh.
Pile your ice on top of the fabric. Pile it high. The fabric has to be covered in ice, no gaps showing through. If you live in a snow area, pile on the snow and you don’t need to pay for ice. We bought one 5kg bag from the local service station (gas station, if you’re in the US) and used it all.
Wear a dust mask for this part. Get your dye powders and start sprinkling. I used a teaspoon and tapped it to drop the powder onto the ice. I only have a few colours here and used most of them – dark green, turquoise (can’t see it at all in the end), pink, orange, gold, I think. I did worry that I’d dropped too much on the ice, but there’s nothing you can do once it’s on there.
Leave it for 12-24 hours. I set this up in the evening, and left it overnight. Probably a good thing too, as I was mightily impatient and kept checking on it. If it had been during the day I don’t know that I could have resisted putting the hair dryer on to melt the ice faster.
Morning! Rise and Shine! Interestingly, the ice hadn’t fully melted overnight. There was still a few pieces sitting on the fabric, and if you look carefully you can see blobs of dye on the fabric as well. Ugh.
Rinse the fabric until the water runs clear, then toss it in the machine on a hot wash with Synthrapol to remove all the excess dye. If you have a front loader machine as I do, be careful how much you add or you will have foam overflowing the machine and all over the floor. Seriously, I added less than a tablespoon to the machine. Oops.
Toss it in the dryer to dry after washing – or put another load of wet towels that were used to mop up the foam through the washer first, then put them all in the dryer… You don’t actually have to use a dryer here, I just like to.
And here is how it ended up after all that:
I was really happy with how this turned out. The stripes came out very dark, they look like they’re a dark brown or black almost. I’d expected a darker colour of whatever was there, dark pink, dark green, etc, however it looks more like a single colour. Interesting.
All that was left was to cut it out and sew it up. I matched up the stripes very carefully so they were straight across the front when cutting out, otherwise there was no real placement of the pattern pieces on the tie-dye.
And here’s the final tshirt.
And a close up of the stripes on the front. Because there aren’t enough pictures of that yet. 😉 Can you tell I’m pleased with how this turned out?
I only got to wear the shirt about half a dozen times before the seams had holes through the fabric and it was pulling apart. It’s the fault of the fabric, and I’ll use a more expensive and much nicer bamboo jersey for version II.