Ombre Dip Dyed Curtains

Categories Decorating, DIY

If you love interior decorating blogs as much as I do, you’ve probably run across this technique of dip dyeing, or creating an “ombré” effect on fabric. It’s also sweeping the hair world, with the trend towards darker roots, lighter ends. I only wish my hair were longer. I would totally do that.

I recently gave our living room a low cost decorating overhaul. The old room was tired looking…the fact that it’s the first room you see when coming into our home didn’t help. As part of the overhaul, I decided to reuse the two pairs of Ikea draperies I had. There was nothing wrong with them other than the color was pretty drab against the newly painted walls.
Rit dye for draperies

The first thing I did was machine wash the drapes. To be honest, I’m not sure how necessary that step is considering the way I dyed the drapes. If you plan to use your washing machine to dye them, then I’d definitely suggest machine washing the draperies first. I dyed and dried mine outside, so the prewashing was probably not necessary. The drapes should be wet/damp when you dye them, so don’t dry them. Having them wet when you dye them helps them ‘bleed’ and give the ombre effect.

I picked up two liquid dyes, a brown and black, and a powder. I was mainly interested in seeing how the results differed based upon liquid vs. dye. There was a big difference. I found the liquid dyes much stronger and gave a more saturated color. I’d go for liquid if you’re looking for a saturated color.

The ironic thing is that all fabrics take dye differently. I mixed my colors and ended up with an eggplant-like color. In the end, I really like the color. The big takeaway lesson is go into this knowing that you really can’t predict the results without a test first. No test here!
Dye in bucket

I borrowed a big bucket from my mom and headed to the front yard to do the dyeing. Why outside and not in the washer? The simple answer is that I in no way trust myself with dye in the house. I’d much rather risk making a mess outside! I didn’t want to risk having to explain to my husband that I ruined a $800 washer trying to make use of $40 drapes. That would be awkward!

I mixed the dye according to the package directions with HOT water. I had figured out roughly where I wanted the dye to come up to on the drapes and began with the gray color dye. I sank the bottoms of the drapes in the dye bottom first up the level I wanted the dye to reach. I left them in the dye for 15 minutes.

After the gray, I removed the drapes from the gray date, and dded the brown dye right to the same liquid along with some more hot water. I sank the drapes back in, this time about 9 inches lower than I had sunk them into the gray dye. This isn’t an exact science, being close is good enough.

I waited another 15 minutes and removed the draperies again. I added the black dye to the same liquid along with more hot water. Then, same as the brown, I sank the drapes into the black liquid about 9 inches from the top level of the brown.
drying drapes
At this point you could machine wash and dry the drapes. I probably would have done this, except I really wanted a dark saturated color on the drapes. Washing would have lightened things, and that’s not what I was going for in this case. I let them air dry outside. Once they were dry, I ironed them quickly and hung them right up!

It’s probably poor blogmanship to show a quick phone pic as the ‘after’ picture. Especially with a blown out overexposed window. On my to-do list is to take some better pics this weekend.
finished drapes

I’m really happy with the way they turned out. I intended to keep these an interim solution until I could find the perfect fabric for these windows, but I’m not in such a rush to do that now. I’m really liking the slightly modern feel they give the room. And the unplanned eggplant color was a nice surprise.

15 thoughts on “Ombre Dip Dyed Curtains

  1. Pingback: Tracy’s House Tour

  2. Tiffany on

    I just saw your drapes over at nesting place. They are beautiful. Thanks for sharing the DIY steps.

  3. Amorette on

    Just saw them at Nesting Place as well, love them AND your whole house!! Question though, for the first color, you dipped the drapes in the most, then the 2nd color a bit less, and the 3rd, even less? Or the reverse? I want to do teals and am not sure! Thank you!!

    • Tracy on

      Hey there! I think the reverse of what you’re saying. I sank the panel into the bucket up to the highest point, left it in for 20 min or so. Then I added some more dye to the same bucket, pulled the panels out about a foot, and left in for another 20. Then added more dye, pulled them out another foot and left them in for about 20. So the bottom s of the panels were submerged the whole time and that’s why it’s darkest down there. I guess if I were different colors I would have switched buckets, etc but I just didn’t want any more mess to clean up!

  4. I fell in love with these!! I am really going to give it a go….I hope my results are as lovely as yours!

    • Tracy on

      Thanks April! The whole process is pretty forgiving so I’m sure yours will be beautiful!

  5. Chelsea on

    Popped over from Nesting Place- love the drapes! Inspired me that that’s what I’ll be doing with our family room drapes, with a rich blue/ green.

  6. Christy on

    These are so pretty I can’t even take it. The eggplant color is divine, now I want to go get the Ikea curtains so I can be sure to get the same color! Just gorgeous!

  7. Barbara (WA) on

    My niece just posted this on Pinterest this a.m. – very fun! But what I noticed was that wonderful mirror peeking out from behind the curtains. Do you remember the source? I love it because it doesn’t have a bazillion rays, more simple. Thanks for any info.

    • Hi Barbara! That mirror came from pottery barn about 15 years ago. It’s been through four moves and has hung in practically every room of the house at one time or another. Sorry it’s not a recent purchase!

  8. Barbara (WA) on

    Thanks for the info! No wonder you’ve kept it through multiple moves, it’s a beauty and a classic. I’ll poke around online for something similar. Thanks again!

  9. I’ve had this idea rolling around in my head for a while…I’m sure you can relate. I think your drapes turned out absolutely fabulously gorgeous! I’d love to feature this post on my blog for a weekly post I do called Window Treatment Wednesday. Drop me a line back and let me know if that would be okay with you. Thanks!

  10. Pingback: Warmth & Peace DIY Ideas | Teal and Lime

  11. Have you washed these curtains in the wash machine yet?
    I haven’t, but i had some of the dye drip on to an old towel and after i through it in the wash the color came out more vibrant and i was wondering if it was my imagination or if it would do the same to the curtains??

    • Hi Nikki. No, I haven’t yet. I was sort of afraid the dye would fade? But I don’t know! That’s interesting that your spot got brighter. If you find out any more, let me know!

  12. LOVE THESE! I feel so inspired! I was going to drop some money on new curtains for our living room, but I have a set of some cheap IKEA ones floating around that I think I’ll try dying instead!

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