Apr 30 2020
How to Ice Dye Fabric
Post by sara albers

If you haven’t tried this method of tie dye, you have to give it a try. Learn how to ice dye fabric now!

tie dyed sweatshirt

We are continuing to see the the tie dye trend everywhere and are loving it! You know we love to experiment with dyeing fabrics. From natural dyes to our favorite Rit Dyes. We have dyed cloth napkins, tablecloths, bags, placemats and even my outdoor cushion covers

Today we are so excited to share another dyeing obsession of ours, showing you how to ice dye! This method gives a watercolor effect to fabrics. It is stunning. And the perfect summer project…

What is Ice Dyeing?

This is a method of dyeing using ice, (pre-treated) fabric and fabric dye. You can use natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, and silk. The fabric is washed and kept damp. Fabric can be pre-treated with salt, vinegar or soda ash (depending on fabric and dye that you use). Then ice is placed onto of bunched fabric and powder dye is applied to ice. The melting ice gives the water color effect as you allow the ice to melt over the fabric completely. 

What kind of dye to use for ice dyeing

We used Rit Dye all purpose powder dye. But you can use fabric powder dye like this as well.

We wanted to get a more ombre effect, so we only used one color dye on each sweatshirt. It is remarkable really how many shades of blue and green we got using the teal dye. I cannot wait until we can host a backyard craft day with friends and make all kinds of amazing ice dyed garments! 

Where do you find white sweatshirts?

You will want to use 100% cotton sweatshirts or natural fabrics (cotton, linen) for this project. Here are a few that I have found:

Off white womens crew neck (this is what we used for this project)

Mens Hooded White Sweatshirt

Mens Hooded White Sweatshirt

Womens crewneck


How to Ice Dye Fabric


Rit Dye all purpose powder dye

White or off-white sweatshirt (we used this one from Target)

Cooling rack

Bin or tray



How to Ice Dye Fabric

How to Ice Dye Fabric

Learn how to use powder fabric dye and ice to create stunning watercolor effects!


  • Fabric Dye (we used Rit Dye all purpose powder)
  • Cotton sweatshirt
  • Ice
  • Cooling Rack
  • Bin or tray to fit under rack
  • Ice
  • Gloves


  1. Prep the cotton fabric. Wash with mild detergant. Keep damp for dyeing.
  2. Cover your work area (we use a white plastic tablecloth).
  3. Prep your supplies. Place cooling rack over the tray or bin to catch the melting ice and dye.
  4. Take your damp sweatshirt and wring out any excess water. Bunch the fabric and place it on top of cooling rack.
  5. Place ice on top of the fabric.
  6. Sprinkle powdered dye on to ice with a spoon. A little bit goes a long way! You do not need a large sum. I used just hte teal dye on the blue sweatshirt and just hte pink dye on the pink sweatshirt.
  7. NOTE: If you use mulitple colors of dye, leave a little room in between where you spinkle hte posdered dye so the colors do not overly blend.
  8. Allow the ice to melt completley. Depending on how warm it is, this could take a few hours.
  9. Now it is time to set the dye. We used Rit Dye Fixative in hot water (about 2 T in 2 gallons of hot water. We let sit in fixative and water bath for 10 mins.
  10. Then wash and dry.

You can also find more info on ice dyeing here. This process is so satisfying! We continue to fall deeper in love with creating our own designs in fabric through using dyes. 

More Ice Dye Ideas

Creating your own fabric designs and colors is so satisfying. Check out the beach towels we dyed using the ice dye method. We used 100% cotton turkish towels in white. Another idea for ice dyeing is using cloth napkins. These came out so beautifully. I am so tempted to do a tablecloth next! What colors would you do for a tablecloth? Blues, mustard and maybe the deep pinkish purple would be stunning! 

We hope you will be inspired to make your very own Ice Dyed creations like the sweatshirts we made. Or you can always buy one at Madewell or Urban Outfitters.

Photos by Sara Albers.

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