In the last post, I shared a DIY Indigo Textile Dye Kit. The kit gives you everything you need to dye fabrics with an indigo blue color:
See the previous post for more information about this indigo dye kit and where to get it. Today I will show you what I made with the kit.
DIY Indigo Pillow
I went on a few creative detours while making this indigo pillow. Long story short, I’m used to paint, which I can control better. The dye did what it wanted to do. It wasn’t in my control. Maybe that’s because I’m new with dye, and I didn’t know how to manipulate it to get the look I wanted. Sometimes with creative materials, you need to give in and let the process unfold into something you didn’t expect. But in the end, I couldn’t give up the control! I learned, I have control issues! I ultimately painted over the dye to make the clean pattern I wanted.
So here’s what I did. The DIY Indigo Textile Dye Kit comes with a large 27″ x 27″ piece of cotton fabric. It’s white, and I wanted a beige background. So I dipped the fabric in water colored with a neutral Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. This colored the cotton fabric, from white to beige:
I let the fabric air dry and ironed it.
I wanted to make a Moroccan stencil pattern with the indigo dye, using the Mamounia Moroccan Trellis Furniture Stencil from Royal Design Studio. My first idea was to create a resist, where the fabric would resist the blue dye, leaving the original beige fabric color. To do this, fabric I “painted” the fabric with Clear Soft Wax from Annie Sloan. I used a large brush and brushed the soft wax onto the fabric through the stencil, just like stenciling with paint:
Oh my goodness — it’s winter, I live in cold weather near Chicago, thus very dry hands!!
Next I mixed indigo dye with water, almost like a watercolor.
I brushed the watered-down blue dye over the fabric. See here how the pattern emerged around the wax resist as I painted:
Lots of dye went through the fabric onto the foam core board behind. Here’s the foam core board!
TIP: Protect your surface!
If you do this, protect your surface! I placed white foam core board under the fabric. Lots of dye went through the fabric and soaked into the foam core board. So definitely don’t play with this dye without protecting your surface first.
Unexpected, Uncontrollable Things
Something unexpected happened. The watered-down blue dye ran underneath the fabric. It dyed the fabric blue from underneath the wax. This made a dark blue/light blue pattern, which was different than the blue/beige I originally wanted. I liked the deep blue pattern you see in the video and the picture above with the paint brush.
But as the dye dried, the fabric changed. It got really blurry, fuzzy and messy looking, and in some areas it was really hard to see the stencil pattern. It’s like the pattern was disappearing before my eyes! I was not happy. I rinsed the fabric before the dye dried, in the stainless steel kitchen sink, washing much of the dye out. This made the pattern show again, but overall it looked messy to me.
I had a picture in my head of the end result I wanted to make, and the dye wasn’t doing it. This is where I could have given up control and let the dye do its natural thing. But I just couldn’t give up the original idea!
I let the fabric dry, ironed it to set the dye, and let the fabric sit for awhile as I decided the next step.
I decided to lay the stencil over the fabric again, and paint with neutral color fabric paints. I knew this would make the indigo blue/neutral pattern contrast that I originally wanted.
I found some light and dark beige fabric paints in the craft store in our basement. That is not a joke. There’s so many DIY supplies down there, I do have a craft store in my house! As I painted, I blended colors through the stencil for a mottled effect.
This is the look I was trying to get! This is an example of “don’t give up.” Don’t wad up the fabric and throw it in the trash. (I did think about that.) If something isn’t working, set it aside for awhile. The answer will come to you.
I had a pillow form from Crate & Barrel, also in the craft store in our basement. I cut the indigo Moroccan fabric to fit the pillow form. I found a blue herringbone fabric in my fabric stash for the back side of the pillow. I liked the contrast of the two fabrics — one bohemian and patterned, one conservative and all lined up perfectly. I had two navy tassels bought in the souks of the Marrakech medina. I sewed these all together into a pillow.
Here it is, a boho blue indigo pillow, on my mom and dad’s family room couch:
I gifted the indigo pillow to my mom for Christmas. I knew it would look great with her blue and neutral decor, and it would add Moroccan pattern to her other pillows.