Techniques . Ombre
How to Ombré Dye
Ombré is a French word meaning “to shade” and is often used to describe a dip-dye effect given to fabric in which the shades of color graduate from light to dark. The most sophisticated look is based on a monochromatic color scheme, but three different complementary colors can also be combined. The look is all about color, with the feeling an artist has dipped and shaded the colors by hand. Sometimes a little white is left showing to create a more dramatic dipped effect, like in the lampshade video.
This simple dyeing technique lends itself to all types of garments, fashion accessories, such scarves and sneakers, and home décor accents, such as placemats, table runners, napkins and lampshades. Ombre dyeing gives a touch of sophistication to whatever it colors.
- White garment or fabric, made of cotton, rayon, linen, silk or nylon
- Rit Dye, liquid or powder
- 2-Cup measuring cup
- 3-Gallon plastic bin or dishpan
- Large metal spoon
- Rubber gloves
- Salt or white vinegar
- Dishwashing liquid
- Dowel rod, 1″ diameter
- Paper towels
- Dishwashing liquid
- Plastic table cover
Step by Step
Prewash garment or fabric to remove any finishes that may prevent absorption of the dyes.
Cover work surface with a plastic table cover.
To determine how much dye is needed: Weigh or estimate the weight of the garment or fabric to be dyed. As a guideline, 1 box of powdered dye or ½ cup liquid dye will color 1 lb. dry weight fabric. For dark colors and for more intense bright colors, double the amount of dye used.
Wear rubber gloves and shake liquid dye bottles before pouring. Measure or pour dye into a 2-cup measuring cup. For cotton, rayon and linen fabrics, add 1 cup salt. For silk and nylon fabrics, add 1 cup white vinegar. Fill with very hot water; stir well. If water is not hot enough (140º F), heat water in the microwave or a tea kettle.
Fill 3-gallon plastic bin or container with 2 gallons very hot water. Pour dye solution into water, add a squirt of liquid detergent; stir well.
Wet garment and squeeze out excess water.
Wrap two-thirds of garment or fabric around a dowel rod. Immerse bottom one-third of item in dye bath for 10 minutes, gently moving it back and forth and up and down.
Then dip middle section of garment or fabric in dye bath for 5 minutes, gently lifting and lowering it to create lighter and darker shades or until desired shade is achieved.
Then, unroll top section of garment or fabric and quickly dip it in dye bath just long enough to achieve a very light shade. Or, if desired, top section can remain white.
Remove fabric from dye bath and wring out excess dye. Rinse fabric under cool running water, holding the lightest color at the top. This allows the dye to flow through to the darkest area.
Then rinse fabric in warm water until water runs clear. Wash fabric in warm water with detergent. Rinse thoroughly and wring out excess water. Machine dry or hang to dry.