How To: Ombre Dyeing

Learn the process of ombre dyeing—a gradual shading method—to give a beautiful, gradient-dyed look to your clothing and home décor fabrics.

Finished ombre-dyed curtain

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

Mix soda ash

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

Soak fabric

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

Create dye

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

Salt dye-tub water

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

Step 5

Mix shades of dye

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

Step 6

Wipe dye tub

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

Step 7

Create tool to help dye process

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 into dye

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

Step 9

Wring out fabric

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

Lay fabric aside

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

Step 11

Increase dye concentration

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 again

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

Ombre dye

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

Rinse fabric with cold running water until water runs clear.

Step 15

Rinse a second time

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

Step 16

Wash fabric to set

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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