Fiber arts: Ice Dye technique

Disclaimer: The substrate I am dyeing on was a gift from all other materials were purchased from the listed suppliers.

Too many months ago my friend Mallory gifted me some Cone Mills Stretch denim in natural to “do something fun” with. She suggested pants or a denim jacket and I knew jeans were where I would be heading. I live in jeans and tee shirts. Maybe it’s my up bringing, Grandaddy used to wear “dungarees” and denim work jackets while he taught us how to grow orange trees in the FL heat. Athletic wear on my body everyday seems like a broken promise, and I have enough mom guilt.


Back to ice dyeing I took my sweet time figuring out the how and what, gathered many pinterest pins and finally settled on something that could read more floral and less Electric Daisy Carnival. I have shopped with Dharma Trading Co. before, picked up my indigo and some dye fabrics there and I love their website and customer service. I went with four colors: a turquoise, sage green, amber yellow, and orange. When dyeing with ice having a variety of light and dark colors as well as some contrasting colors (colors across from each other on a color wheel) can really enhance the outcome.

Shopping list:

  • Fabric to dye (mine had a small percentage of spandex and the rest cotton) I would recommend natural fibers
  • Soda Ash (a dye fixative bought at Dharma Trading also) about one cup per gallon of water
  • Fiber Reactive dye (I used these)
  • A grate or cooling rack (Broiling pans, clean bbq grill grates, baking cooling rack, old window screen)
  • Something to set the grate over to collect the dyed water
  • Ice
  • Plastic spoons
  • gloves
  • valved respirator face mask



To begin wash and prep fabric in free and clear detergent or the detergent synthrapol from Dharma Trading and dry without fabric softener to pre shrink your fabric. The next step is to soak in soda ash solution for 15min (Tip: soda ash will dissolve in hot water, if there is still some not dissolved add more hot water). Wring out as much of the soda ash liquid as possible, some recommend a trip in the spin cycle, but I just used my glove covered hands. You want to scrunch your fabric on your rack of choice over a drip pan to collect the melted dye and to keep your fabric out of the dye filled water (I used bbq racks from the Japanese dollar store Daiso, don’t use things you use for food going forward) get a mask valved preferred (this kind at a minimum, don’t want to hurt your lungs), plastic spoons and your gloved hands. I used about two quarts of ice from my fridge for two yards of denim. Cover your fabric as best you can with the ice (a cardboard ring around your fabric may help hold the ice in place but I didn’t use one) and then begin sprinkling on the dye powder (with you mask on!).


I suggest starting with the darkest colors first, I think this is also psychological, at the beginning I was very lightly dusting dye here and there but by the last color I was throwing it everywhere as I got comfortable. Once your ice (or snow this work with snow too!) is covered to your liking with dye, the fabric sits there for 16-24 hours as the ice melts and drags and mixes the dyes on your fabric. I waited 16 hours, it was warm and I was excited to see the results, rinse your fabric with cool water till almost clear then one more rinse with warm water. Then I threw it in the washer on a hot regular wash cycle with a cap of synthrapol detergent but a free and clear may work (you just don’t want any brighteners, scents or fabric softeners in the detergent) then dry in the dyer or how your fabric needs to be dried.

Up next what I made with my ice dyed denim, some amazing pull on elastic waist jeans!!


Bespoke Jalie Stretch Jeans

I ice dyed some Cone Mills Denim natural color with a 20% stretch for these jeans you can read all about it here. Since I was essentially cutting into a piece of art, I made the fit  version out of black denim also with 20% stretch from JoAnns. The quality in the two different denims was VERY noticeable.

fit vs long crotch

My waist was 44” and Hips 51” this put me in a size 20 or EE in the Eleonore a pull on stretch jean in a straight leg full length or capri style. This pattern also offers sizes down to a toddler size 2 to a women’s size 20, and since I have girls this made a lot of fiscal sense. The preschooler has already asked for a pair, but her preteen sister is up next with her self designed capsule wardrobe (I will post if she’ll let me).

fit version i am shortMy body shape often requires pattern adjustments so I knew for my situation a fit version, toile, or muslin was needed. I had the black stretch denim slated to be jeans for the oldest kid but she has decided she doesn’t like jeans, so onto the cutting table it went. The instructions for assembling each side of the jeans (first front then back) was very clear and took no time at all. I wish I had set up another sewing machine as my topstitching machine, the amount of thread I wasted changing back and forth was a bummer.

fit vs back darts

Bad camera shot but also saggy bum with two inched taken out with darts.

For the fit version I cut out and assembled a straight size 20 or EE and basted the side seams. When I tried on the jeans I could see that I didn’t have enough rise in the back or enough taking in at the waist. I could have held a fruit bowl in the back bum gap, but that is the way of my body in most RTW jeans too. I took in two darts with about an inch at their widest near the waist, which helped but still would have been too close to a peek a boo bum when I sat. I also had way too much ease in the thigh and calf area. I made my notes and finished the fit pair that I dubbed my “Thanksgiving Pants”.

My alterations to the pattern:

  • Cut out two sizes smaller, a size 16
  • Cut the back rise sides at a 16 but the rise (where the back yolk seam is) at a 20
  • Cut the length to a 30” inseam (I’m short)
  • Adjusted the false pocket to match the size 20 back side seam though it was a size 16
  • Took out an inch from the center back seam of the back yolk at the top only and re-drew the seam line
  • Stitched the hip and thigh with 1/4 seam allowance and rest of the leg at 5/8
  • Made the waist band a size 16 at the seam lines but a size 15 where the elastics attach


After the fit version I cut out my ice dyed denim in a size 16 waist and back but kept the height the same as the fit version size 20 for the back rise, giving more height to go up and around the booty. I made sure to grade up where seams would need to meet like in the false front pockets. If fake pockets make you mad here is someone who added real pockets to this pattern. I also shorted the pants by using a much smaller sizes hem line as there were no “lengthen here” marks and the drafted lines of the legs were the same (straight leg style) so there was no tapering to account for. Because these are stretch pull on jeans or leggings the waist needs to be tight to hold everything up but the thighs also need to be just right so the pants don’t constrict south aka fall down. I made sure to baste in the side seams and try on before finishing the inside and adding the waist.

My Eleonore Jeans with ice dye

I LOVE these jeans! And my EasyT

This showed me that the thigh area was just a bit too tight and the calf area too big. I adjusted this while I stitched the side seam and before surging by decreasing and increasing my seam allowance where needed. A more patient sewist might have basted and tried on one more time, but I was not that person. The waist is constructed with elastics on each individual front and back piece without any tension added when you zigzag it to the inside. This makes for a smooth waist band but could also be a fit issue for some body types. If your full hips are a great deal different in circumference than your waist measurement this pattern could be very difficult to pull on and have sit comfortably against your waist. My waist does go in a bit so I adjusted the waistband pattern pieces to have the elastic part a size smaller than the seam that will meet with the jean top. I hoped this would create enough of a cinched waist as to keep the pants up and not create a tourniquet. It does! Now it is a little bit tight to pull on but not like trying to get in and out of too tight shape wear. It is just fitted enough to stay up all day while doing all the things this mom needs to do.

Testing for back rise deficiency

See no bum peaking up, full bum coverage!

The Cindy Swim Suit by BurdaStyle


I made this swim suit long before I started blogging my sewing adventures so I have no photographic evidence, I’m pretty sure it was while I was still operating RitualBath, so blogging was natural bath and beauty related. However this swimsuit showed up in my inbox this morning and I wanted to write it a quick love note.

The Cindy from BurdaStyle, when that website was my only outlet for pdf on demand sewing patterns. Oh how far we have come my indies! First off I did have to grade this a bit as I was a size 16-18 at the time. I made it in a gorgeous burgundy swim lycra from JoAnn’s because I didn’t know any better at the time. Before I go into the problem areas and how I think they can be fixed let me just say, I felt SMOKIN HOT in this swim suit.

Now I didn’t actually do any of these alterations, they are what my wearing experience taught me of the suit. This is the bad boy that when wet was too heavy and flashed my boobs to a pool full of vacationing people in Las Vegas, true story.


See where that halter neck band goes? There is no support at the top of that suit, no stays, boning or cups. It may have well been called a roman shade for how fast it went down. But my social embarrassment can be your benefit, I’m all about sharing and learning. For every bust line, all we need to do is make a wider halter strap that starts at side boob and ends right before apex. Structural support is important for all boobies.


Next up the bodice ruching (yes spell check it is a word). In the instructions at the time the inside lining was faced with the same swimwear lycra as the body. This was important because you could see the lining at the cups, but with the alteration above that should not be a problem. Also using the same swim wear lycra makes the front very heavy, when wet, I know. Now if you alter the straps maybe you don’t need to adjust the lining because you have more support now, but if not use a light weight nude swimwear/dancewear lining.

I just wanted to share as a curvy plus size lady it can be hard to find swim suits that make you feel good. This was one of the winners, even if it included a peep show.

Shopping with Cashmerette and SoCal Sewists

Curvy So Cal Sewists and Cashmerette invade The Fabric Store LA and Mood LA!

On Cashmerette Pattern’s Facebook group, Jenny Rushmore the creatrix behind Cashmerette put the word out that she was planning an escape of the frozen tundra in Boston and heading to sunny Los Angeles on a buying and defrosting trip. She would graciously share her work vacation time with any So Cal sewing ladies wanting to join in a retail shopping excursion to The Fabric Store LA and Mood LA.


My lovelies from The Fabric Store LA

I don’t know about anyone else but sewing keeps me away from the outside world, and most times it’s a good meditative practice, so I don’t mind. However my immediate family doesn’t understand the excitement of a well threaded double needle or the reason behind the “WOOHOO” I yell out when the finished stash busting shirt fits well.


A table with an array of fabrics in a pink color way and in the background the Merino wools!

So the call to join for an afternoon, with others who know the joys and trials of sewing for a bodacious body, I was in.


Oh you know just some silks in a rainbow display 

If you have never been to Los Angeles, it’s big, like takes 30 – 45 min to get anywhere big. I live in what could be called the suburbs or “the Valley” if you are old enough to remember those movies from the 80’s. Really it could be a city of it’s own hovering at about 1.8 million people (Los Angeles counts that 1.8 in the over all 3.8 million people in the county and city). We came together from surrounding counties some driving an hour to meet up.

It was a great time, swapping stories of pattern makes, alterations and just ohhing and ahhing over all the fun things we were running our hands over.

I highly recommend finding an in-person group to sew or shop with, I know this won’t be my last.