How To: Ombre Dyeing

Ombre dyeing -- a gradual shading method -- is achieved with several levels of dye. Here, we explain the process required to create three stages of color. For a more gradient look, divide your dye concentrate.

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Oh, Ombre!

Ombre dying gives a subtle, ethereal look to fabrics. Follow our step-by-step instructions to learn how!

What you'll need (per pound of dry fabric):

  • 1/4 cup professional textile detergent
  • 1/3 cup soda ash
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Two 5-gallon buckets or plastic containers
  • 1 tablespoon urea powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons fiber-reactive dye
  • 3 cups noniodized salt
  • Rubber gloves
  • 2-3-cup plastic mixing container
  • Ruler
  • String
  • Two binder clips
  • Stool
  • Spring clamp

Step 1

Wash fabric with professional textile detergent, following manufacturer instructions. Combine soda ash and 3 gallons of warm water in a bucket, stirring until dissolved.

Step 2

Submerge fabric in soda ash mixture. Do not overstuff; instead, soak only fabric that easily fits in bucket. Allow fabric to soak in soda ash mixture for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3

Combine urea powder and 1 cup warm water in a mixing cup. Pour a few tablespoons of urea mixture into a plastic mixing container with fiber-reactive dye in bottom. Work the powder and urea water into a smooth paste, then stir in the rest of the urea mixture to make a concentrate.

Step 4

Add salt to 3 gallons of warm water in your dyeing tub, stirring until dissolved.

Step 5

To create the lightest shade in your ombre pattern, add about 1/3 cup dye concentrate to saltwater and stir.

Step 6

Wipe the inside of dye tub to prevent unwanted dye marks on fabric.

Step 7

Create a tool to help you hold your fabric longer by tying strings to two binder clips and then wrapping the string around a ruler. Wring out fabric and attach binder clips.

Step 8

Dip fabric to desired point and hold for 10 minutes or until you reach preferred color intensity.

Step 9

With clean, gloved hands, remove fabric from dye. Hold undyed end of fabric with one hand while wringing out excess dye with the other.

Step 10

Place dyed fabric on a clean surface protected from the dyeing area.

Step 11

To create the next intensity of dye, pour about 1/3 cup of the dye concentrate into the dye tub and stir.

Step 12

Dip fabric to desired point (we suggest several inches below your last dip point for a noticeable progression) and hold for twice the amount of time of first level or until you reach preferred color strength.

Step 13

Repeat steps 8 through 12, each time doubling the amount of dye you add and the amount of time you leave the fabric submerged. For more than three levels of ombre, you'll need to make more dye concentrate. Use a spring clamp and stool or ladder to hold fabric while dyeing if desired.

Step 14

Rinse fabric with cold running water until water runs clear.

Step 15

Wring fabric again, squeezing out as much excess water and dye as possible.

Step 16

Wash fabric in hot water using professional textile detergent. If you're unable to wash immediately, lay fabric flat on clean plastic wrap and wrap completely to prevent unwanted dye marks and drying.

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