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Watercolor Drip Dye

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Anyone else get irritated with the quality of women’s clothing vs. men’s? So many of the women’s sweatshirts are so thin I’m not sure how they get away with calling it a sweatshirt.

I’m a tank top and sweatshirt gal (have been since my teenage years) yet even in my high school days I was wearing men’s sweatshirts because they were thicker and actually kept me, you know, warm. It was fine except for the fact the color choices were gray, black, burgundy or navy blue.

If you haven’t figured out from my brightly colored blog, I happen to love colors. Given the men’s choices, it meant I’ve pretty much owned various dark blue hoodies for approximately…20 years now? I think it’s about time I had some prettier colored sweatshirts!

I bought myself a few cotton white sweatshirts (men’s, of course), going with the thickest fabric they had because I’m cold all the freaking time. Just ask my husband who is constantly giving me the side eye as I’m throwing on a sweatshirt when it’s 75°F.

Finally, the time for dreary colors is over!

For this particular sweatshirt I used gravity and excess water to create a watercolored effect. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cotton item for dying
  • Protective gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Dyes
  • Urea
  • Soda ash
  • Water
  • Squirt bottles

Start by soaking your item in soda ash for about 15 minutes and preparing your dye. You’ll need one bottle for each color you use (I used two) and one more filled with plain water. (Click here for the detailed tutorial on how to prepare the soda ash and dye.) Since I was going for a pastel look, I did not prepare my dye at full strength.

Wring out your item. It should be damp and no longer dripping. I actually threw mine into the washer for a quick spin cycle to get out the excess liquid.

Hang your item someplace that you don’t mind getting messy. I would have preferred to work outdoors but unfortunately there’s nowhere for me to work, so into the tub I go!

Start by applying the first dye at the top of your item. Let it start to bleed downward, allowing some areas drip more than others.

Add the second color just under the first color.

Squirt water on your item, starting from the top and working your way down. You could just add to the top and let gravity do all the work, or add more all the way down. I did the second method, but I think I might have gone a little too crazy with the water.

Cover with plastic to keep it moist and let the dye react for up to 24 hours. The item is going to continue to drip, so ideally you want the bottom open to allow the dye to drain out with something to catch the drips underneath.

Rinse your item until dye no longer runs out and wash (detailed instructions here).

The colors really blended together to give the whole sweatshirt a pastel watercolor effect. You can really see how much the colors changed from when I first added the dye to the finished product.

Finally, a sweatshirt that’s not boring!

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