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.
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!
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.
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!
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.