Ice-Dyed in the ‘Muck’

There is a new trend in fashion design; yup, it’s tie-dye! ‘But it isn’t your usual ‘hippy’ kind! These less-planned designs are absolutely amazing! Check out how I made some lovely gifts with this Ice-Dyed in the ‘Muck’ method.

There are many versions of the ‘new’ Tie dye. The ones that have white lines in geode type shapes use a very tight tying method. I learnt this when I was making the blue geodes. The trick is to have a sturdy short stick of some type that you wrap the sinew (artificial sinew) around. No, elastics will not be strong enough and the sinew is waxed so that it can hold itself without tying knots.

But, if you want lots of shapes without any specific lines you can just scrunch the fabric.

To ‘Plan’ or not to ‘Plan’?

Fibre reactive dye is the best dye for use on natural cellulose fibres. Soaking your fabric in a solution of soda ash (cotton, linen, rayon, bamboo, tencel) will allow them to take the Fibre reactive dye permanently. I like to work with well wrung out fabric but that is not a rule as soda ash can also be added to the dye powders.

If you want specific lines or a direction of your design you can use washable Crayola children’s markers to draw out where to scrunch up the lines. Generally, I don’t do this. I like to live on the edge a little bit, haha. I do try NOT to make some obvious circle shapes (boobs) on the upper chest though! This random method will create patterns but much less geometric than the tie-dye of the hippy age.

If I am going to have fun making things, I want it to BE fun! I do not really want to have to fuss and be ‘perfect’. We all know what happens when we want to be perfect…

To start a tie, I wrap around the well scrunched section about 2-3 times and then pull with all my might. You will feel it tighten and also stick to itself, wrap around again 1-2 times and pull tight again. It should now stay tight & tied without the need of a knot. I do not cut between, usually just leave a long tail/loop to the next tie.

The short rod-handle allows you to grip the sinew much better than your fingers could. Keep the rod and the bundle between your fingers for best leverage.

Oh the choices of colours!

I will admit; I cringe sometimes when I see the Psychedelic combinations of colours that some tie-dyers use! Just because there are so many colours does not mean it looks good all together! Think about how you combine colour in your wardrobe.

Yes, you know blue is my favourite! (I bought 16oz and it’s lasting forever) Navy (PR24) has been a great one even though it may split into a bit of pink.

Raven (PR200) is also great as it splits into so many colours but has a good black. I had tried some reds but every time I see red blotches I think of road-kill. So no real red for me.

Instead I like to have another colour that will marry well with the tones of blue and purples; Razzle Dazzle (PR169) which is a strong raspberry that can blend to bring dark wine colours with the black and blue. You need to use a bit of colour theory. Any addition of yellow or orange is risky since it will be opposite on the colour wheel and create a muddy colour.

So many options:

This is an Ice-Dye method but there is still the choice of using the Dye over or under the ice. There is also a choice of snow… but I have yet to try that. Here you see all the hoodies tied and very tightly forced into the bottom of a large plastic bin, no mesh or sieve on the bottom.

In my mind I believe that dye under ice may give more defined & strong streaks of colour since the water has not quite diluted it yet.

Make sure to wear your dust mask before sprinkling the dye powders over the damp fabrics. Raven, Navy and Razzle Dazzle, I can’t wait! Sprinkling on a bit extra Soda ash also ensures permanence.

I cleaned out the ice bin of the fridge so there was even some icy snow, and very well covered. The fabric had a depth of about 2 inches and the ice was about 1.5 inches roughly. The fabric is damp so it will not need a huge amount of ice to saturate.

It is a pretty consistent depth and covering. I will let this ‘batch’ (term used for the amount time left to sit for permanence) for 36 hours in a pretty warm part of the house UNDISTURBED. Make sure there will be no pets or small children near it. Dyes lose their ability to dye after lengths of time, so that is why it is left to sit for so long. It also gives the colours time to slowly sneak through the layers. In summer I like to put them outside and the melting and warmth are sped up.

OMG Colour!

It’s a bit scary when you look later and see so much dark colour! Do have some faith as what happens inside a bundle is always surprising.

The ‘Bestest’ Part:

Just like opening a gift, you never really know… It’s one of my few joys lately in times of lockdown. I carefully take one out at a time and rinse under cold water without untying yet. Once it runs close to clear I then untie, rinse more and wash with warm to hot water to rid of any unabsorbed dye.

I unwrap by the reverse order of how it was tied. I also do rewind the sinew onto my stick to re-use a few times.

I like the way the colours split and also how they compliment each other. The white lines are where the sinew was tied. Do be aware that the thicker & bulkier fabrics will be less likely to have really contrasted white lines. These hoodies are a wonderful 100% thick t-shirt knit.

Such a lovely geode pattern. Does it need a geometric pattern repeat? No, much more nature inspired this way.

It’s hard to believe that this sat in the ‘muck’ (the liquid that collects in the bottom) for over a day! I never tire of looking at these designs. I think we are crossing to much more options in the world of surface design.

This was also in the same bin. Such rich blues and even some turquoise splitting from the Razzle Dazzle!

What about 50/50 Blends?

It is not always easy to find 100% cotton garments. The blends of 50% cotton and 50% polyester do also dye pretty well but with slight less intensity I find.

These 50/50 Blend hoodies are fluffier and take the dye differently. Raven and a tiny bit of blue, also dyed in the ‘muck’.

I was a bit more stingy with the dye this time. Although I love it, I do like the way the thinner fabric knits take the dye. I have dyed so many fabrics and weights and they all act somewhat differently.

I do see a lot of simple scrunch dyed pieces as well. It all depends what you like! Even bamboo rayon sheets can dye quite well. There are so many ideas in my mind, dyed garments and also dyed yardage to sew later and take advantage of the best areas of the patterns.

Don’t forget there’s also shibori style dye methods, and even ice dyed shibori. Let me just say; I think we will see much more in the way of dyed fabric designs. And I am so so excited to get away from predictable fabric patterns.

And, when you are purging your closet, give anything dyeable another chance by tying it up; a perfect up-cycle project!

Welcome in the New Year with some new vibrance in your life! Colour & design! ❤️

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  1. Love the new sweatshirt designs! Did some T’s and table runners last summer, will set up work lamps for quicker drying and try the new geo designs! thanx for sharing!

  2. Barb, thanks so much for sharing your beautiful talent , I well try this one, the lamps are beautiful, you were right about the ex’s pence, quite high, thanks again, Becky