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Ice Dye: Apartment Edition

Ice Dye: Apartment Edition

Britt and I have a tradition of tie dyeing almost every year! This summer we decided to attempt it at Britt’s apartment… Instead of doing pots of dye on the stove or in buckets outside, we discovered ice dyeing, which was a new technique for us. We decided to try it out in a new crafting space- the carport! 😉

We began by doing some research about ice dying methods! One of our favorite articles came from Brit+Co at https://www.brit.co/how-to-ice-tie-dye/ . Once we had researched methods, we brainstormed ideas for making the project more small-space friendly. With our new found inspiration, we gathered supplies and set out to see how big of a mess we could make in Brit’s car port!


  • Tarp
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paper towel
  • Scissors
  • Tin pans with plastic lids
  • Cookie racks
  • 1 lb. Soda Ash
  • Rit Dye (We also tried a polyester dye for a poly/cotton blend scarf… it didn’t work as well.)
  • Ice
  • Rubber bands (You only need these if you want to do starbursts or to tie up the fabric to produce a certain pattern).
  • Natural fiber clothing to dye

Step 1: Soda Ash

We started by dissolving a package of soda ash in a couple of gallons of water, according to the package directions. We then soaked the clothing in the soda ash solution for about an hour before ringing the pieces out and taking them outside for dying. (The soda ash is supposed to help the dye take to the fabric better.)

Step 2: Stabby stab!

Now for our small-space-friendly innovations! We needed a way to contain the dye after the ice and dye melted. We used scissors to poke holes into the plastic lid that accompanied the tin pans. We planned to place the lid on the pan, and then put the garment/ice/dye on top of the lid. When the ice melted, it would liquefy the dye which would drip through the garment and into the pan! In theory, of course! 🙂

Step 3 – Optional

I love starbursts so I used tiny hair rubber bands to create them around the bottom of some shirts I was dying.

Step 4: Assemble materials!

We first covered the carport floor with a large tarp. We then placed the plastic lids on the tin pans and thrifted cookie racks over the tin pans that didn’t have lids. With paper towel, gloves, dye, and ice in place, we were ready to go!

Time for some tie dye! We used primarily powdered Rit dye, which works best on clothes that are made of natural fibers, like cotton, rayon, linen, and silk. We did experiment with a polyester-friendly dye as well, but didn’t think it worked well for this project. Live and learn! 🙂

Step 6: Arrange fabric and add ice.

We scrunched up the damp garments so that they fit on the lids/racks above the pans. (Scrunching the fabric helps the dye create patterns as it melts!) We then covered all of the garments in a layer of ice cubes! We only used one bag of ice, but almost ran out! When in doubt, just get more ice! 🙂

Step 7: It’s time to dye.

We opened the packages of dye and shook the powder onto the ice. There isn’t really a specific method for this part, just have fun!

We ended up leaving the ice to melt over night. (When I dyed sheets back at home a few weeks later, I left the dye sitting for 3 hours in the sun.) In the morning we collected our ice dyed goodies from the car port and put them in the wash…


The dye had a harder time melting through and getting to both side of thicker materials like those in the tote bags and a shorts. The pieces still turned out pretty cool, but the back sides didn’t receive as much dye. The T-shirts and silk shirt we dyed, though, turned out really well on both sides!

We hit the beach rocking our new ice dyed clothing!

We fit right in at Brit’s local market.

Clean Up!

We washed the tin pans and cookie racks in the bathtub so I could take them home and do some ice dying with my friends! (The dye water dyed the soap scum in the tub, but did not dye the actual tub because we scrubbed it clean right away. Your tub might retain dye if it is old and/or cracked. If in doubt, you can do this step outside.) We used first paper towel and then a hose outside to clean the tarp outside. Relatively easy and quick clean up!

Britt and I have deemed this project apartment-carport friendly! I had so much fun ice dyeing that when I returned home, I ice dyed some sheets to remake into curtains. You can check out that project here: http://partnersincraft.com/ice-dyed-curtains/ Be sure to follow us and our YouTube channel for more fun projects coming your way soon! 🙂 Stay crafty, Everyone!

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