Ice Dyeing With Tulip Dyes

I’ve heard from several of you about your concerns with the precautions and the fabric prep you need to take with using fiber reactive dyes. Because of that I thought I’d try my ice dyeing process with Tulip® dyes. These dyes can be purchased at most local craft stores and even Walmart. And I just love to experiment!

But before I started this process I wanted to find out exactly why these Tulip® dyes did not require a soda ash soak prep. I discovered that the soda ash or a similar product that helps the dye adhere to the fabric, was already mixed in with the dye.

I wanted to test Tulip® by ice dyeing two different ways. The first is my original way of sprinkling the dry dye onto the ice. The second is adding water to the dye and then squirting it onto the ice cubes. I used the same three dye colors for this experiment: Lime Green, Pink, and Turquoise.

I washed and dried the fabric before dyeing to remove any sizing or dirt. I then loosely fan folded both pieces and set them in the dyeing trays.

fabric folded and ready to be dyed
fabric folded and ready to be dyed

Next I add ice cubes to cover both fabrics.

Fabric covered with ice
Fabric covered with ice

For the first ice dyeing technique, I poured the dyes into jars for easy access.

Tulip Dyes in jars
Tulip® dyes in jars

Then I scooped out the dye and sprinkled it on the ice in the first dye tray.

Sprinkling dry tulip dye over ice
Sprinkling dry Tulip® dye over ice

When I felt I had enough dye powder on the ice, I stopped. The more dye you use, the darker the fabric. I usually measure out my dye when I’m using the regular fiber reactive dyes, but I had no idea how these dyes would work so I used enough to cover all of the ice.

I covered the trays with plastic and waited for 24 hours. You don’t have to wait that long, but that worked best for me. Tulip® recommends 6-8 hours or longer.

Covered ice dyeing fabric dye traysThen I followed directions on the Tulip® package rinsing in warm water until water turns clear and then washing in the washing machine in hot water.

This was my result. As always with ice dyeing the finished fabric is always a nice surprise. The Tulip® dyes worked well although lighter than my other ice dyed fabric. It looks like a flower garden!

tulip ice dyed fabric
ice dyed fabric with Tulip® powder dyes

Now to show you the other method. This time I mixed up most of the remaining dye with water and squirted the liquid dye over the ice.

squirting liquid dye over ice
squirting liquid dye over ice

I knew right away with all of the ice, this piece would be very light. The ice diluted the dye.

Then as with the above technique, I let it set for 24 hours before washing out.

After washing and drying the pieces, here are my results for both – side by side.

Both ice dyed fabrics
Both ice dyed fabrics

The left (first technique of sprinkling the dry dye powder on the ice) is darker and you can see the design better. The right piece is much more muted using the liquid dyes.

I prefer the darker fabric. If you attempt this, please remember that you are using dyes and should take precautions. When I was handling the dry dye powder I wore gloves and a mask to avoid breathing the dye particles.

This was fun testing this popular dye. I’m sure had I used more dye, the original technique result would have come out much brighter and even darker. Using the liquid in the second example would probably never get the results I wanted – that is – a darker design.

If you try the ice dyeing technique with Tulip®, let me know how it turns out. You don’t have to just dye plain fabric. You could use this technique for interesting t-shirts, scarves or other clothing pieces.