How To Ombre Dye Fabric & Ombre Craft Ideas

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The rich hues and dramatic color gradations of ombre dyeing have made it a popular fashion trend. Rather than spending a fortune on designer ombre dyed clothing and fabrics, create your own one-of-a-kind pieces at home.

What Is Ombre Dyeing?

Also sometimes referred to as dip dyeing, ombre dying has its origins in the French word, ombre, which means, "to shade." Characterized by subtle color gradations from light to dark hues, you'll find ombre dyed fabrics everywhere from Victorian era ribbons and trims to civil war quilts and fabrics.

During the 1960’s and 70’s, ombre dying reemerged in vibrant dancewear and dramatic street clothing. Today's ombre dyed fabrics are more sophisticated, and appear in plenty of upscale, high-end fashions and even hairstyles.

The Best Clothing To Ombre Dye

The graceful shading of ombre dyeing compliments a wide variety of clothing styles. Perhaps most dramatic in long, flowing skirts, ombre also works beautifully with:

  • Tank tops
  • Tee shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Socks
  • Dancewear
  • Blouses
  • Jeans
  • Scarves
  • Shawls
  • Sundresses
  • Hats

The Best Materials To Ombre Dye

Ombre dyeing is most often seen on white or light colored fabrics, with a single color dye, however, it can also be done with multiple colors or with dark dyes on colorful fabrics. Many types of materials adapt well to ombre dyeing. Some of your options include:

  • Wool
  • Silk, silk taffeta or silk chiffon
  • Nylon
  • Cotton
  • Velvet
  • Synthetics such as lycra-spandex or rayon.
how to ombre dye how to ombre dye


How to Ombre Dye Clothing

Rather than brave the mall, why not design and create your own one-of-a-kind garments instead? You'll need these basic supplies to get started:

  • Garment to dye
  • Fabric dye (liquid or powder)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Measuring cup
  • 3 Gallon bucket or bin
  • Metal spoon
  • Salt
  • Dowel rod
  • Liquid detergent
  • Drop cloths or plastic sheets
  • Straight pins

To Ombre Dye Your Clothes:

  1. Wash the garment thoroughly to make sure any finishes that would interfere with dye absorption are removed.
  2. Protect your work surface with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting.
  3. Wearing rubber gloves, prepare your dye solution:
  • Pour ½ cup liquid dye or 1 box powder dye into a disposable container.
  • Add 1 cup of salt and four cups of very hot water.
  • Stir and pour dye solution into a 3-gallon bucket or bin.
  • Add two gallons of very hot water and about a teaspoon full of liquid detergent. Stir dye solution until blended.
  1. Wet garment and squeeze out any excess water. Wrap the upper two-thirds of the garment around a dowel.
  2. Dip the bottom third of the garment into the dye bath and keep it immersed for about 10 minutes, moving it around gently in the solution.
  3. Next, dip up to the middle third of your garment in the bath for about five minutes, moving it around to achieve your desired shade.
  4. Finally, unroll the garment and (wearing rubber gloves) dip up to the top third of the garment in the dye bath for a short time for a very light shade.
  5. Take garment out of the dye bath carefully and ring out the excess dye.
  6. Holding the lightest shaded area at the top, rinse garment under cool, running water so that dye flows down from light to dark areas.
  7. Rinse garment in warm water until water runs clear.
  8. Wash garment with detergent in warm water and then hang or machine dry. 

Ombre Craft Ideas

Ombre dying isn't just for clothing! With a little imagination, the possibilities are just about endless. Here are a few fun ideas for crafting beautiful ombre dyed projects from items you've already got around the house:

  • Ombre Curtain panels: Say goodbye to boring, plain curtains and create custom window treatments with dramatic shading that matches your room perfectly. To avoid an over the top look, try using black or blue for a more subtle ombre effect that will blend well with your existing décor. See No Sew Window Treatment Ideas.
  • Ombre Furniture throws: Snuggle up in style when you give white or pale throws a new look by adding gradations of your favorite colors.
  • Ombre Bedding: Create custom bedding that looks like it was the work of a famous designer.
  • Ombre Slipcovers: Give your upholstered furniture a face-lift with elegant, ombre-dyed slipcovers.
  • Ombre Tote bags: Plain canvas tote bags become treasured gifts when you ombre-dye them.
  • Ombre Cloth napkins: Instead of white napkins for your next party, design striking shaded ones that match your party's color scheme. This also works well for holiday specific table settings.
  • Ombre Accent pillowcases: Can't find accent pillows that match the color of your living room or bedroom? Just buy white pillow covers and ombre dye them in the perfect complementary shades.
  • Bedding: The gentle shading of ombre dye on sheets, pillowcases and comforters enhances the restful atmosphere of any bedroom.

Once you get the hang of ombre dying, your options for creating striking clothing, accessories and household items are practically limitless.

Last Updated: April 27, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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