Ice dyeing tutorial


 Ice dyeing tutorial

In this tutorial I will explain how to dye small quantities of natural fabrics using cold water or “Procion” dyes.  Ice dyeing can be fun and gives great results, especially on silk scarves as in this example but you can also use cotton T-shirts, cotton crochet lace, vintage table cloths etc. Items must be pure silk, cotton, linen or viscose or blends of any of these.  Not suitable for wool, polyester nylon, acetate etc.  Blends such as poly-cotton will give results only on the cotton proportion of the fabric. Plain items in natural fabric are readily available and the results make great gifts.


Always wear old clothes and protect your surfaces. Always wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling dye dust. This method  is fine to do outdoors on a sunny day but be aware that any wind will blow your dye powder around and you could either cross contaminate other items or find you have inadvertently coloured your washing on the line or even worse, your neighbour’s! Likewise, if doing indoors protect floors as well as tabletops. Use common sense!

There is no way of accurately predicting the results but you could play around with swirling or folding your item and see what  happens. If you wish you can also introduce “resists” (methods of preventing the dye from reaching the fabric.); try folding and using a few household pegs on the folds, tie elastic bands around small sections gathered up or wrapped around marbles.

Remember that some dye shades are composites of other shades and so you may get some interesting results from those  component colours. Try and select your dyes with some idea in mind of how you want it to look. Consider using all warm shades such as browns, golds and yellows for a subtle effect or go for contrasts such as red, green and purple for a colour pop!




One or more silk scarves or other natural fibre items.

Plastic bucket to soak your fabric in.

Soda ash solution (10g for each litre of water)

Procion dyes in powder form in colours of your choice.

Some kind of trivet to lift your fabric off the deck.(We used stacking plastic mushroom trays from the supermarket)


Ice, lots of ice.

Small sieve.


Rubber gloves or similar.

Face mask

Did I mention you would need some ice? Don’t stint on this.



  1. Put on your gloves and face mask.

  2. If your scarf hasn’t been previously washed then do so before soaking in a solution of soda ash and gently wringing out the excess.  scarves-in-bucket

  3. Gently arrange your scarf on top of your trivet (We used mushroom trays, but you can use cooling racks, tile spacers etc) The idea is to keep the scarf away from any pooling dye water which will just give you a murky result.  

  4. Pile ice on top of your scarf, making sure it is well covered. You can use cubes or crushed ice, even snow. The different textures will give different results.  building-a-pile-of-ice

  5. Wearing your mask sprinkle neat dye powder over the ice in random arrangements, using the sieve so that there are no clumps and making sure you have an even coverage of dye. starting-to-sprinkle-dye-on sprinkling-dye-using-a-smal sprinkled-dye-on-ice dye-on-fresh-ice-detail 

  6. Leave the ice to melt and carry the dye through to the scarf. partially-melted-ice-on-sca wet-scarf-and-partially-mel 

  7. Once all the ice has melted leave the scarf alone for a further 20 minutes; remember some of the dye has only just come into contact with the soda ash.     wet-scarf-in-tray-2                                             

  8. Gently remove the scarf and rinse thoroughly, keeping your gloves on. coloured-scarf-in-tray1

  9. Wash the scarf in a gentle detergent, rinse  again and spin in a washing machine if you can.

  10. Allow to dry away from direct sunlight.

  11. Once completely dry steam press it to get all the creases out.

  12. Wear and enjoy. finished-pic-1 finished-3 finished-2 

    For this project we used procion dyes and related chemicals from