Snow Dyeing Tutorial

I had been wanting to try some snow dyeing of fabric, so gave it a shot on Monday.  I had never done this before, only read about it.  I have no idea if this is the RIGHT way…it is just MY way.

Here is what I did:

Using plain, prewashed pieces of muslin (because I always have lots of bolt ends from Steve’s business), I soaked it in soda ash water first.  Then put it in the bottom of individual buckets.

Mixed my dyes:

snowdye1

Went outside, scooped snow into each bucket.  Completely covering the wet fabric with about 4″ of snow.

snowdye2

Poured dye on top of snow:

snowdye3

snowdye4

Oh heck, lets add some more colors.  I put 3 colors in each bucket.  But you could choose less or more.

snowdye5

snowdye6

snowdye7

Steve thought it looked like snowcones.  I wouldnt let him taste it though.

Then I set the buckets next to the fireplace for oh…… about 3 hours.  A couple of times I poked down thru the snow with a straw, but I dont know that it helped the process along.

I dumped the excess snow and dye down the sink, then rinsed the fabric in water till most of the excess dye came out.

Wash in washing machine with synthrapol.  Dry in dryer.  Iron.

Voila’ !

snowdye8

snowdye9

snowdye10

snowdye11

snowdye12

snowdye13

snowdye14

snowdye15

snowdye16

I am surely no expert at dyeing fabrics.  I dont measure exactly, nor do I keep recipes and journals and charts like so many serious fabric dyers.  Nope, I keep it simple, fun and relaxing.

All of my dyeing supplies come from Dharma.

Questions?  Feel free to ask.  And if you click on the picture, it will enlarge it.

Any suggestions on how to use these pretty fabrics now?  Art quilt?  Pieced quilt?  Something else?  I am open to all options.

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38 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 19:25:19

    Those are pretty!! And I love the idea of bringing it inside in tubs versus throwing the fabric outside. Very nice!

    Reply

  2. BeckyP
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 19:54:45

    how cool…Bella loved it!!!

    Reply

  3. myolivebranch
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:00:55

    man! that looks like fun!

    Reply

  4. Deb Levy
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:02:49

    They are terrific! I don’t have snow to play with (thankfully) but I might try it with shaved ice…

    I am a very lazy dyer, I love the unexpected so no planning or recipes for me either!

    Reply

  5. Jami
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:27:29

    They look great! Love the long orangy one!
    Our snow is just about all gone, but we expect more tomorrow. I need to get some dye powders to try out this summer when I can do it outside.

    Reply

  6. Vicki W
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 21:29:14

    Way cool!

    Reply

  7. Judy
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 23:25:11

    Yep, still LOVE the orange/yellow one!!! This almost, ALMOST makes me miss the snow! LOL

    Reply

  8. freda1951
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 09:16:30

    I have a great idea about what to do with it. I will send you my address and you can send them to me. They would look great in my stash. What? You don’t like that idea? They look great Gayle, I love all the colors.

    Reply

  9. TK42ONE
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 10:17:45

    This gives a whole new meaning to not eating yellow snow!

    And Dharma? Hmm, wonder how many Lost fans know about that….

    Reply

  10. Christine Olson
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 12:32:02

    I LOVE this! It makes me almost want to live in “snow country”…. Okay, that’s a very big ALMOST! LOL!

    Still, I love your results. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  11. Trackback: Tutorial: Use snow to dye your fabrics · Sewing @ CraftGossip
  12. Anne
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 23:26:30

    Beautiful!!!! Now if only it would snow around here….
    Blogged on Craft Gossip Sewing Blog: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-use-snow-to-dye-your-fabrics/2009/02/12/

    Reply

  13. LIz
    Feb 13, 2009 @ 13:41:00

    Awesome fabric! Thanks for the tutorial. Must try this sometime….

    Reply

  14. Carmen Grant
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 08:25:40

    Who would have thought of dyeing fabric in the snow? What a terrific idea. What is Dharma? I live in a very small town that doesn’t even have a fabric store. Where can I order it from? I would love to try doing this.

    Reply

    • Karol Marino
      Feb 03, 2013 @ 00:02:06

      Dharma Trading Company has wonderful Procion MX fiber reactive dye colors, also fabric and clothing blanks and just about anything else you could want to buy. Pro Chemical and Dye also carries Procion dyes and their prices are about the same. Pro Chem is on the east coast and Dharma is on the west coast. Buy from whichever company you live closest to to save on shipping costs. You can use ice to do the cold dyeing techniques, but you add the dyes in very sparing amounts as dry powder directly onto the ice instead of mixed with water for the snow technique. Use cracked ice, shaved ice or cubes. I even bought a 22 pound bag and was able to dye about 10 yards of fabric with it. The ice dyeing will have slightly “harder” lines in the patterns than the “soft”, swirling designs the snow melt makes. The finer the ice is ground or chopped, the softer the look. Someone on one of the blogs suggested using a colander to help hold in the ice and that really set me free. Makes clean up much easier, too. ($1 to $2 each in the dollar stores.) Just be careful when you choose your colors. Using more than 3 colors can make the piece turn out muddy sometimes if the colors overlap too much. Just starting out you might want to try a sampler pack of dye to find out if you like this process. Best of luck, and I hope you get hooked the way I did….

      Reply

  15. butterflywing
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 10:54:35

    you talk about soda ash, which i am not familiar with. can you share with us the proportions you used and where we can buy it?

    I buy soda ash, dye and synthrapol all at Dharma. http://www.dharmatrading.com/tub_dye/

    These are the instructions I use for mixing the dye. Beyond that, I just play! Dharma has tons of info on dyeing fabrics in all different ways. It is the best place I know on the net to learn about a variety of dye methods.

    And wouldnt it be fun if you were either the Terri or Tal Rosenblatt (twins) that I went to high school with??

    Gayle

    Reply

  16. Maria
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 08:04:12

    Hi,
    They look beautiful,maybe I will try to make it sometime. Your blog is also very interesting, well organized. Congratulation!
    Maria

    Reply

  17. Trackback: Le Borse di Gaya » ops, mi è passata la domenica!!
  18. Alison Gates
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 14:07:49

    Your tutorial was the best I’ve found on this subject, maybe because you seem to be my kind of dyer – I too do studio work in jammies, and although I make my students measure, I pretty much wing it with my own stuff! Thank you – I’m going to check your blog more often for more fun from now on.

    So glad it was useful to you. Stop by again!

    Reply

  19. nina
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 16:11:07

    Hi
    any ideas on how we can do this without snow? and what colours/dye do you use?

    Reply

    • Gayle
      Aug 15, 2009 @ 19:26:46

      Nina,
      I don’t really know, but have wondered if ice would work. You know the ice that is kind of round with a hole in it? Restaurants use it. Like that. Or snow cone ice. Wonder where you get that? Maybe 7-11 or another fast food place would sell you some? Let me know if you try it. I used fiber reactive dye that I bought from Dharma.com.

      Reply

      • Leiah
        Nov 16, 2009 @ 17:46:02

        I am sure that would work – it’s just frozen water of another type! Maybe dump the ice cubes into a bucket, stuff in the fabric and cover with ice and leave it to freeze, then pour on the dye? Would put quite a bit of on top.

      • Karol Marino
        Feb 03, 2013 @ 00:13:42

        Ice works great. The smaller the cube or crush, the sofeter the pattern on the cloth. Ebay sells an array of ice crushers from small to heavy duty. I bought one but haven’t used it yet. I did first buy the commercial snow cone maker (supposedly) but it was crap. The block of ice wouldn’t stay put and darn near hit me when it flew off. If you buy one, look for the amount of crushed ice per hour that it will produce. It’s usually listed in pounds. I have used store-bought bagged ice with wonderful results. The round cubes with the holes are perfect. (As a side note, we had a delivery truck full of ice overturn 2 streets over from me and I had no room in the freezer. All those beautiful round cubes and nowhere to save them. All I could see was all those yards of fabric I wouldn’t be dyeing!!!) I don’t get real good results using liquid solutions on ice. I think it leaves too many white spots. the dry powder seems to mix and melt into the ice at a better rate letting the run-off to the patterns instead of just washing it all through. Hope that may help….

      • Karol Marino
        Feb 03, 2013 @ 00:16:43

        PS- I always elevate the fabic to keep it up out of the water. I know of a dyer who puts a DRY piece of faric in the bottom to catch the residual dye, with very nice results. I use vinyl-clad shelving or colanders on the shelving to let the drips go through.

  20. Helen White
    Nov 27, 2009 @ 19:32:57

    Cool idea. And simple. Thanks!

    Reply

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  22. Kaye
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 18:38:40

    I’m going to try it tomorrow. I do have snow, lots of it, with more on the way. Thanks for the tutorial.

    Reply

  23. Sue Williams
    Jan 29, 2010 @ 00:54:41

    Sigh! We don’t get snow here along the coast of south-east in South Africa. I think the nearest I could achieve something similar is to use Shaving Foam in an aerosol can! I have done this with good results on paper. Now I should try it on fabric. Thanks for the great tutorial. Sue

    Reply

    • Gayle
      Jan 29, 2010 @ 08:54:23

      Sue Williams,
      I wonder if you could try crushed ice? Or shaved ice? Wonder what would happen then? And yes, the shaving foam technique does work with fabric too.
      Gayle

      Reply

  24. nicole
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 23:45:17

    Thanks, i’ve always wanted to try this, and after seeing your post I finally went for it. Your tips were very helpful, but i can’t seem to get a good blue happening, if you have any tips pass them my way!

    Reply

  25. Gloria
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 16:12:08

    Gayle
    how is it going? good here but business is slow to non existant so….
    i am snow dying. Yep go the notion to do this from your page.
    Of course the snow is about all gone here but there is that nice clean snow on the top of the pool cover.
    so the batches are soaking.
    not sure how long to wait but I figure as long as there is still snow on top it is all good
    some where I read where a person put the freshly dyed fab in the microwave for 3 minutes. Do you know what that is about
    take care and keep in touch
    Gloria Byers from Indiana

    Reply

    • Gayle
      Mar 01, 2010 @ 21:14:30

      Hi Gloria,
      All is well here. I have read about nuking the fabric, but have never tried it.
      Business has been slow here too, but in the last few weeks it has picked up considerably. Maybe everyone was hibernating!
      Gayle

      Reply

  26. Lynda
    Oct 10, 2010 @ 18:01:32

    I just found your blog about snow dying. I have a couple questions as I am real interested in doing this. Why couldn’t you just pour the dye powder (being real careful!) onto the snow or mix the dye with some snow instead of mixing with water? Also, do you have to wash it in synthrapol?

    Reply

    • Gayle
      Oct 10, 2010 @ 20:30:00

      Lynda,
      Well, you need to try it that way, without mixing the powder with water and without washing in synthrapol.
      Let me know what happens. I am no expert.

      But….. mixing the powder with water makes it into a solution that is helps melt the ice some, and distributes the bits of dye and crystals and powder more evenly. Otherwise, it is kind of chunky (for lack of better term at the moment)
      And synthrapol is cheap and lasts for ever (little bit goes a long way) and why NOT use it?
      And I just followed the directions!

      Gayle

      Reply

  27. quiltfever
    Dec 02, 2010 @ 12:15:14

    What a wonderful idea. I can’t try it in Florida :-) but I enjoyed your tutorial and the end results.

    Reply

  28. Mary in the Mountains
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 01:57:57

    Gayle, thanks, I loved reading how you do your snow dyeing, too! I will have to try it!

    Reply

  29. Dorothy
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 10:06:49

    I really love your snow dyed fabrics!! By the way, A Slice of Paradise, is no longer available. (Blogroll)

    Reply

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