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Accordion Fold Ice Dye Technique

If you’re ready to take your ice dyeing to the next level, simple folding techniques can really add some interest to your fabric!

Accordion folding is an easy technique that gives your fabric a beautiful repeating pattern.

You can make the accordion fold two different ways. With the first way you fold the fabric up and down like a fan into zig-zagging pleats. Your folds should look like a bunch of W’s next to each other.


The second way you can fold is to continuously fold the fabric in half and half again until you end up with a thin strip of fabric of your desired width. While this isn’t a true accordion fold, for the purposes of ice dyeing there is very little difference in the result, and this method is much faster to fold up.

The difference between the two folds is the way the dye will distribute through the entirety of the fabric. When accordion folded, the dye will be slightly lighter on one end of the fabric and darker on the other. When continuously folded in half, the dye tends to alternate darker and lighter each row.

To make these I started with two one-yard pieces and folded one in each method described above. It can be hard to get the fabric to stay so it helps to press each fold with an iron. When finished the folds were about 2″ wide.

You will end up with a lot layers of fabric after folding

You can leave it as one long strip at this point if you wish or do some additional folding. For the blue and green piece I folded the strip in half then in half again (so it would have been folded into fourths).  The yellow, pink and blue piece was only folded in half.

This long strip of fabric was folded in half.

The pieces were then bound with rubber bands. I alternated the ways the rubber band bunched the fabric together. With the blue and green piece, the fabric was pinched up and down alternatively.

In the yellow, pink and blue piece the center was bunched along with the sides into the rubber band.

Play around with the fabric! Give it twists and folds and see what you can make happen!

I ice dyed these by soaking in soda ash, sprinkling the dye directly onto the fabric, and placing the ice layer over the top.

For the blue and green piece I used Emerald Green on both ends, then alternated Cobalt Blue, Sky Blue, and Cerulean Blue in the center. You can see the folded fabric in the top of this photo – I often dye things in batches together, so that’s a geode dye just below it.

For the other piece, I dyed using the colors Bright Yellow, Light Red, Deep Purple, Cerulean Blue, and Cobalt Blue starting from the center out. It’s being dyed together with a mandala that I used to make a minky baby blanket.

Check out the results! These make some really fun repeating fabrics!

Resulting blue and green dye
Resulting yellow, pink and blue dye

They would be great as a panel in a quilt, to use for free motion quilting practice, or cut them into strips to make a dramatic strip quilt!

What would you make from them?

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June 7, 2021 5:59 pm

Thank you so much for this posting! I have been wanting to know the specifics of how to do this. Your results turned out fabulous.