Were you one of the many people who took up tie-dyeing in the last year? If so, you’re not alone. Pinterest searches for “tie-dye at home” quadrupled at the beginning of quarantine.
But despite how much fun and creativity tie-dyeing affords us, the bold pattern can be overwhelming in the context of home design and décor. That goes double for the bedroom, a space that’s meant to soothe the senses and encourage relaxation before bed.
If you’ve tackled your share of T-shirts, it may be time to try a new type of dye job: an ombré dip-dye. Meaning “shaded” in French, the ombré technique is chic and minimalist, making it ideal for your sleep space. Unlike the whimsical designs of tie-dyeing, dip-dyed fabrics have a more subtle effect.
Choose a color palette that feels calming to you — such as blue, lavender, or a muted pink. You can’t go wrong, as long as it’s a color that makes you happy and calm.
Here are the steps to making your own set of ombré pillowcases to keep or gift.
Ratios and supplies can vary, so be sure to follow the dye manufacturer’s instructions. Below are the basics to have on hand before you begin.
- Rubber gloves
- RIT dye (½ bottle of RIT dye for each pound of dry fabric)
- Liquid dish soap (approximately 1 tsp)
- Hot water (approximately 3 gallons per ½ bottle of dye)
- Plastic tub or bucket
- Salt (optional, but helpful for cotton, linen, and rayon fabrics)
- Vinegar (optional, but helpful for nylon, silk, or wool fabrics)
How to make DIY ombré tie-dyed pillowcases
1. Prepare your pillowcases
For best results, wash to remove any residues, then plan to dye them while still damp. If you’re using RIT all-purpose dye, you want to make sure you’re using natural fabrics like cotton, wool, or nylon.
Pro tip: You always want to dye fabric when it’s wet instead of when it’s dry, as the moisture helps the dye absorb better.
2. Mix the dye
With rubber gloves on, mix the dye and liquid detergent in a plastic bin or bucket according to the instructions on the bottle, using the hot water to combine.
Pro tip: Supplemental items to add to the dye bath include salt or vinegar, depending on your pillowcase fabric. Use the salt to enhance color on cotton, rayon, ramie, or linen. Use vinegar to enhance color on nylon, silk, or wool. When you’re dyeing fabric, there’s a reason for every step and every ingredient. So, follow the instructions and don’t skimp on basic safety here — you’ll absolutely want to wear gloves while you’re mixing up your dye bath, and take care not to spill the dye.
3. Dip one-third of the pillowcases at a time
To create an ombré effect, dip a portion of the pillowcase into the dye bath at measured, 15-minute intervals (eyeball it, though, as you may want to keep it submerged for longer or shorter). Dip one-third of the pillowcase at a time, as larger chunks work best. When dipping the chunks, either hold or drape the rest of the fabric away from the dye.
Pro tip: The longer the section sits in the dye, the darker it will be. For a more dramatic color contrast, you can drop the time down to seven minutes on the lighter end.
4. Repeat the process
Repeat the process with the second and third section of the pillowcase. Eventually, the entire pillowcase will be submerged in the dye bath.
5. Rinse with cool water
Once the pillowcase is completely dyed, rinse with cool water until the water runs clear. Wash with a little detergent by hand, rinse, and then dry the pillowcase.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that fabric will always look darker when it’s wet than it will after it dries.