I’ve been trying to dye a successful galaxy for months. I’ve scoured the web and attempted every tutorial that seemed like it had potential but none of them resulted in anything that looked remotely like a galaxy.
Classic tie dye gives vibrant colors, but not the swirly cloud-like effect. Ice dye separates colors too much with far too much white space and unorganized, random patterns – plus it’s incredibly difficult to get black to actually stay black.
So I experimented, and failed. Tweaked some things and failed. Modified something else and failed.
But folks, failure isn’t truly failure if you’ve learned from it.
Each attempt was a little bit closer and that just encouraged me to keep going.
Here is my testament to the power of persistence: a successful and beautiful galaxy dye.
Today I’m going to show you how you can make one too!
- Procion powdered dye
- Small containers (such as cleaned single-serve applesauce cups)
- Protective mask and gloves
- Washed cotton fabric or clothing
- Soda ash
- Rack (such as a baking cooling rack) and drainage bin
- Plastic garbage bag
- Synthrapol detergent
- White or silver fabric paint
- Paint brush or toothbrush
Add 1 cup of soda ash per gallon of warm water. Soak the fabric in the soda ash solution for about 15 minutes. Wring out by hand so that it’s damp but not dripping wet.
Place the rack over the drainage bin and loosely lay out the fabric on top.
Mix the powdered dye with just a little bit of water. (Remember your dust mask!)
Using your gloved fingers, mix up the concentrated dye and spread the color in the desired places on the fabric. So I didn’t have to wash gloves in between colors, I worked from the lightest color to the darkest, spreading color over the entire fabric leaving no white spaces. Rub and scrunch to distribute the dye.
The only color I didn’t apply with my fingers was the pink. For that I just dribbled it straight from cup over the top of the other colors.
Overall I used approximately ½ tsp turquoise, 2 tsp cobalt blue, 1 tsp black, and ¼ tsp pink to cover the whole yard of fabric.
Place ice sparingly across the fabric making sure not to put any ice over the areas with black dye.
See the video below to watch the process in action!
Let that sit for about 24 hours covered with the plastic garbage bag to keep it wet.
Rinse out all the excess dye under cold water until it runs clear (there’s a lot to rinse out with this method), then repeat using warm water.
Machine wash on hot using Synthrapol (it’s a professional textile detergent) until the rinse water runs clear. Because there’s so much deep color with this method I ended up washing 3 full cycles for mine.
Once the fabric is dry, lay it flat and protect the surrounding surfaces from paint splatter. Take your brush and dip in in the paint, wiping off the excess. We don’t want it dripping wet or it’ll leave giant blobs. Take your finger and rub it along the bristles to flick the paint onto the fabric. I’d suggest trying this out on some scrap paper first. Experiment with a few different ways of running your finger along the bristles or with different brushes and see which you like best.
Follow your manufacturer’s directions for setting the paint into the fabric. The paint I use needs to be ironed to heat set, making it washable.
Here’s another piece I galaxy dyed with more purple:
Try out this method and tag @mythicseam on Instagram because I’d love to see your results!
I just found your tutorial. What an amazing method! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks!
Thanks! I’d love to see how yours turns out!
weird question (amazing tutorial, which I plan on trying on t-shirts, only tutorial that is exactly what I was looking for as far as nebula gas looking tie dye goes) but where can I buy the white netting you’re using to hold the fabric above the bin ? I can’t seem to find anything comparable, usually it’s more fabric based. I need something I can cut to size, and is more plastic then fabric, as cooling racks just aren’t big enough
That’s actually left over deck child safety netting – the sort of stuff that keeps the little ones from slipping between the bars and falling. You can find it either online or at a hardware store. It’s good because you can cut it to size and just tie it to your bin but the downside is it has some give to it, so if you dye something heavy it is hard to keep taut.
Thank you for that quick response. especially on an older post, took a chance and you actually answered. That’s just awesome, and what you said def helped me find something useable.
Very helpful. I was wondering the same thing! You then covered it with organza or a thicker fabric to avoid getting the net images on your fabric?
I’m just finding this site and love your science experiments! Thank you.
I actually haven’t had an issue with the net creating impressions on the fabric, but that’s a great idea!
Going to try this with a child’s chair cover that I don’t like the color of. It’s a thick cotton so hoping this works! What colors of dye did you use for the photo that is more blues? I love it!
I used approximately ½ tsp turquoise, 2 tsp cobalt blue, 1 tsp black, and ¼ tsp pink to cover one yard of fabric.
I just found your tutorial and the result is amazing.
But I have a question. Did you put the wet shirt in a plastic bag or was it only covered on top with the bag? I am from Germany and the translator told me both is possible as a meaning of “cover”… 🙁
I only covered the top with the bag, however either would work. You just want to make sure it stays wet.
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.