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With ice dyeing, you can get bright, bold colors or you can can go for a more pastel, subtle color. Keep reading for tips on how we achieved both results.
Supplies Needed for Ice Dyeing
Supplies Needed for Screen Printing with Vinyl
- Screen Printing Frame – I used the 16×20 size for this project
- Speedball Fabric Ink (I used Speedball white fabric ink but any color will work)
- Oracal 651 Vinyl
- Cricut Maker or any vinyl cutting machine
- Cricut Mat
- My Favorite Transfer Tape
- Painter’s Tape
- Screen Printing Press (recommended)
- Blank T-shirt
Watch the Process Video
Step by Step Process for Ice Dyeing
Step 1: Wet your shirts.
It helps the dye soak into the fabric if it is damp. We ran our shirts under water and squeezed them out before starting.
Step 2: Setup Rack
Place the rack on a container to catch the dye as it melts and drips from the shirt.
NOTE: Steps 3-5 will determine the final look of your shirt. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see different results achieved.
Step 3: Bunch shirts on top of wire rack
This is where you can get different looks with your ice dyeing. We did a tighter bunching with lots of ice on top for a more colorful shirt. For a shirt with more white areas, less bunching and less ice will achieve this look.
Step 4: Cover shirts in ice
There are a couple of strategies for the amount of ice you use. If you want a more colorful shirt, use lots of ice. If you want a more subtle amount of color, use less ice spread out over the shirt.
Step 5: Sprinkle the Dye Over the Ice
In addition to how much ice you use, the amount of dye you sprinkle will determine how much color you get on your shirt. For a more colorful shirt, sprinkle a generous amount of dye over the ice. For a more subtle amount of color, go light on the dye.
Step 6: Allow Ice to Melt
Now it's time to wait for the ice to melt. It was 100+ in Texas when we did this project. It took about 1 hour for the ice to melt completely.
If you have an extremely hot day like this, I recommend putting your shirts in the shade. You don't want the ice to melt too fast! If it takes longer than an hour for your ice to melt, that's okay too.
Step 7: Rinse Your Shirt with Water
Once the ice has melted, you can pickup your shirt (gloves are recommended!). Spread it out and see how it looks.
If you want the color to stay as dark as it is now, allow your shirt to sit for 2-3 more hours.
If you want to lighten your color, go ahead and rinse out the shirt now. Ours got a couple shades darker after washing.
Rinse and squeeze the shirt until the water runs clear.
Step 8: Wash and Dry Shirts
After rinsing the shirts in the sink, I threw them in the wash. Since we didn't want any of the colors to mix, I washed the shirts individually on a quick cycle.
Throw them all in the dryer and then get ready to screen print on your shirts! Scroll down for more details on screen printing on top of your dyed shirts.
Here's a look at each of the shirts we made with an explanation of how we achieved each look:
Sage Fabric Dye
This shirt was bunched up tightly on the rack and covered with a generous amount of ice and dye. The extra dye gave the shirt areas of dark but also covered the entire shirt in a nice sage color.
Yellow Fabric Dye
For this shirt, I knew that I wanted to screen print a design in the middle. I bunched up the middle area more and used less ice so it wouldn't be too dark. I put more ice and dye around the sides and arms.
Black Fabric Dye
For this one we wanted a darker dye. After the ice melted, we allowed the ink to soak for 3 more hours before washing the shirt.
Coral Fabric Dye
Here is a side by side comparison using the same dye color but 2 different methods of bunching up the shirt.
The shirt on the left was not bunched as much. The ice was placed further apart, leaving more white fabric between. We also washed this shirt immediately after the ice melted to get a lighter color.
The shirt on the right was bunched tighter with a pile of ice covering the entire area. This gives you more color on your shirt, less white areas. After the ice melted, we let this shirt sit for about 2 hours before washing to keep a darker color.
Here are the results:
Teal Fabric Dye
This is another example of 2 different looks you can achieve with the same dye color.
The shirt on the left was bunched tighter and completely covered in ice and dye. The shirt on the right was more spread out on the rack. The ice was spread out more and the dye sprinkled sparingly over the ice.
Dusty Rose Fabric Dye
This color surprised me – and I'm not sure I'm crazy about the results. The dusty rose color had flakes of pink, teal, and yellow in the dye. This created for a very colorful shirt rather than the light pink I was expecting. We used a generous amount of ice covering the entire shirt and sprinkled the dye on top.
Screen Printing on Dyed Shirts
After you have washed and dried your shirts, you can personalize them even more with screen printing.
These are the designs I screen printed on my ice dyed shirts (scroll down for links to the SVGs used). If you don't have a Cricut Access membership, I highly recommend it! I find a ton of my designs in Design Space. They are all loaded and ready to use… so easy!
Screen Printing Around the Collar
I was excited to try something a little different on these shirts. One of my Instagram friends suggested trying a collar design. I love the way it turned out! Plus this saying just sums up ice dyeing so well. You never know exactly what you are going to get so enjoy the imperfections of the process!