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Pillows with Dyed Bands

Photography: Dana Gallagher

Source: Martha Stewart Living, August 2010


Pillows with perfectly imperfect bands of color invite you to relax. Sew your own covers (learn how to make them here), or dye store-bought ones. You can even dip-dye patterned fabric, such as the striped one here. For the bolster pillow band, dip the ends of white fabric in dye, and then sew the fabric into a sleeve to fit around the bolster.

For items you plan to launder, set the colors by washing the finished objects in synthrapol detergent. This concentrated, pH-balanced detergent will keep the dye from bleeding onto undyed parts of the fabric.


  • White upholsteryweight linen

  • Striped linen

  • Large plastic storage bin or galvanized-steel bin

  • Stir stick

  • All-purpose liquid or powder dye

  • Sample fabric or paper towel

  • Sewing pins

  • Synthrapol detergent (optional)


  1. Wash and dry fabric to remove any finishes that resist dye.

  2. Fill plastic bin with hot water to a depth of at least 6 inches. Stir in dye, starting with a small amount and adding more as desired. Dip a sample strip of fabric or paper towel to test the color. If too dark, add water; if too light, add dye. Let solution settle, so there are no bubbles at the surface.

  3. Determine where you want the top of the dyed band to be; use pins to mark that line on fabric.

  4. Holding your fabric as straight as possible, dip into dye solution to just below the pin line (make sure you don't dip the pins; the fabric will wick the dye higher). Keep fabric in dye until it turns the desired color (it will dry slightly lighter).

  5. Rinse fabric in cold water to remove excess dye until the water runs clear.

  6. If desired, wash item with synthrapol detergent.

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