I’ve been wanting to try dyeing wool felt for some special projects. A few weekends ago I experimented with ice dyeing, have you tried it? It’s a popular technique for creating tie-dye-look T-shirts and fabric. I’ve also seen knitters dye yarn using this technique.
I don’t have a detailed tutorial for you at the moment, but the concept of ice dyeing is pretty simple. In a nutshell, you wet your dyeable item and scrunch it up on a metal rack over a bin. Cover it with ice cubes. Sprinkle dry dye on top. As the ice melts the dye gets deposited on your item in fun random blotches. Dye type, mordants and dye setting method are determined by the fiber content of your item. Since I had a challenge finding an existing tutorial for ice dyeing wool fabric in particular, I decided to combine existing tutorials and wing it!
Here’s the result of my first experiment, using Jacquard brand powdered acid dye and white wool felt and fabric.
The piece above, on the left, is 100% wool felt. The piece on the right is 100% woven wool fabric. These turned out so vibrant! I love how they look with the Sue Spargo eleganza floss in blues and greens.
This next piece is wool blend felt: 65% wool, 35% rayon. You can see the ice dyed result is a softer, almost heathery effect. Also very cool! The acid dyes that I used are meant for protein fibers (wool) which took the dye. The rayon is a cellulose fiber and requires a different type of dye, so those fibers didn’t pick up the dye as much.
Now for some purpley-pinks! This is also wool blend felt, so it’s got that softer look. So pretty! I think this would make some beautiful appliqués!
It was definitely a day of trial and error. Without going into too much detail, there were quite a few pieces that did not turn out well! But I’ve taken some notes and will try it again sometime soon. For one thing, I will be sure to do more ice dyeing on a warmer day so that the ice will melt faster. Also, acid dyes require heat to set them, so that’s something to sort out as well.
Stay tuned for an update! I’m definitely not ready to write up a tutorial until I work out the kinks.
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