Learn how to dye a duvet and other bedding fabrics in a grayish purple shade, shibori style.

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dyed duvet bedding set

This project is reprinted with permission from Hand Dyed: A Modern Guide to Dyeing in Brilliant Color for You and Your Home by Anna Joyce, published by Abrams. This bedding set is so simple to dye yet makes a beautiful, stylish statement for your bedroom. The rich and complex pattern is created from some easy folding and just a few rubber bands. The subtle cool gray hue works for any season; this color looks great mixed and matched with other neutral colors and patterns, so it's a welcome addition to your linen closet.


What you need


How to do it

Part 1

dyeing a duvet bedding set
Step 1

Scour the linens (Note: Scouring means simply machine- or hand-wash with hot water and a professional textile detergent, and hang or machine-dry.) Start the folding process with the pillowcases—place them on a clean surface such as a tabletop or floor and smooth away any wrinkles. Accordion-fold each pillowcase widthwise into a stack of 4 equal-size folds, roughly 4 inches wide). Starting at the bottom corner, fold the fabric into triangles, forming a triangular stack. This folding action is essentially the Itajime triangle pattern, but no clamps will be used.

dyeing a duvet bedding set
Step 2

Secure each corner of the triangle with tightly wound rubber bands. Set aside and repeat with the second pillowcase.

dyeing a duvet bedding set
Step 3

Unfold the duvet cover, lay it flat, and smooth out any wrinkles. Fold the duvet cover lengthwise into an accordion—depending on the size of the duvet, the number of the folds will vary. For the queen-size duvet used here, the accordion of fabric was 6 folds high and about 10 inches wide. After the duvet has been folded into a long strip, fold it into triangles like the pillowcases. Secure the corners of the triangle with tightly wound rubber bands, placing them about 4 inches in from the end of the triangle. After all the bedding is securely bound, soak it in the prepared soda ash solution for at least 1 hour, until the cotton is fully saturated.

dyeing a duvet bedding set
Step 4

While the bedding is soaking, prepare the dye bath. Add 3 1⁄2 gallons of warm water to the 5-gallon container. In a small pint glass jar, make a slurry of 2 rounded teaspoons of gray dye, 1 level teaspoon of light purple dye, and 1⁄2 cup of warm water, being sure to wear your mask. (Note: A slurry is a concentrated mixture of dry dye dissolved into a small amount of water; a typical slurry may be mixed with 1⁄2 cup of water and the amount of dye listed in a given project.) Mix with a plastic spoon or chopstick until here are no more lumps of dry dye and the mixture is smooth. (Note: If you are looking for a subtler color for your duvet, omit the purple dye in the color recipe and replace it with 1 additional rounded teaspoon of gray dye.)

dyeing a duvet bedding set
Step 5

Add the dye slurry to the container and stir. Add 3 cups of dyer's salt and stir until fully dissolved. Test the tone of the color with a scrap of cotton or linen, and make any adjustments to the color before dyeing the bedding itself. Squeeze the excess soda ash solution from the linens and submerge them in the dyebath. Allow them to soak for 2 to 4 hours—soak for the full 4 hours for a darker, more saturated color—stirring and turning the bedding occasionally. After the bedding has been dyed to your satisfaction, squeeze out all excess dye and wrap the bedding tightly in a plastic trash bag. Let the bedding cure for a full 24 hours for the most intense color and sharpest patterns—for this combination of color and pattern, the curing time is very important.

dyeing a duvet bedding set
Step 6

After 24 hours, remove and discard the rubber bands from the pillowcases and duvet cover, unfold the bedding, and wash in hot water in the washing machine with a professional textile detergent. Machine-dry and iron if needed.


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