Ice Dyeing with Procion MX Dyes

Ice dyeing is a technique for creating random patterning on fabrics (or fibres and yarns!). The dyeing method below uses Procion MX dyes on cotton fabric.

Ice dyed cushion cover


Here is how Cara created her one-of-a-kind ice dyed cushion covers for her garden. 

Preparing the fabric for ice dyeing

You will need to use linen, viscose or cotton fabric. This is because Procion MX dyes are formulated for use on cellulose plant fibre and will not dye synthetics such as polyester. The dye will make a wash-fast permanent bond with the fabric.

It is important to ensure that the fabric is clean of dirt and oils which may interfere with the effectiveness of the dye.

  1. Wash the fabric in a mild soap solution and thoroughly rinse in clean water. Squeeze out excess water but leave damp.
  2. Soda ash is used to cause the dye molecules and fibre molecules to bond together, use it at a rate of 10g to each litre of water. Prepare enough solution to soak the fabric.
  3. Wearing rubber gloves, move the fabric around in the solution to ensure it has been fully soaked.
  4. Remove the fabric, wring out excess water and leave scrunched up.

Cotton fabric soaking in soda ash solution


How to ice dye

    1. Place the scrunched fabric onto a mesh grid or in a large sieve and over a container to collect the melted dye water.  Cara wrapped a couple of elastic bands around her scrunched fabric to stop it from springing open.

      Ready for the ice!

    2. The ice cubes were then placed on top of the fabric parcel.

      Ice is placed on top of the damp fabric

    3. Cara used a spoonful of Procion dye which she sprinkled over the top of the ice cubes. This colour Violet is from the Jacquard Procion MX dye range; the Fibrecrafts Procion MX dyes work equally well and offer better value for money when dyeing in large volumes.

      Procion Dye sprinkled over ice for dyeing

    4. As the ice melted, the dye colour was taken with it.

      As the ice melts, the dye soaks into the fabric

    The ice dyed cushion cover

    Cara left her bundles to stand overnight before washing and rinsing the fabric. The non-bonded dye washed away to leave the beautiful random patterning created by the melting ice.

    Ice dyed cotton cushion cover


    More ideas for ice dyeing…

    • Sprinkle two different colours of dye powder over the ice a couple of minutes apart
    • Sprinkle one half of the parcel with one colour of dye powder and the other half of the parcel with another
    • Choose colours that will blend together to make new colours such as purple from blue and red; or two contrasting colours such as black and yellow