DIY Ombre Curtains

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Edit: I realized that I did not add in my inspiration photo!!

I saw these super cute Ombre curtains from Anthropologie on Pinterest, they reminded me of the ocean, which is sort of the theme I'm going for in this bathroom... so anyway, here's the inspiration and DIY side-by-side comparison:
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So, a professional blogger I will likely never be, but here we are finally with a kid's bathroom update, and a semi-tutorial on how to make your very own DIY Ombre Curtains!

I say "semi-tutorial" because I literally winged this entire thing. There are no tutorials, that I can find, as to how to dye 10 ft. curtains. Napkins, sure. Shirts, yep I can find those, too. But no super long curtains.

I've also never dyed anything in my life, so it was a learning experience all around. If anything, you can likely pick up some great "what not-to-do's" from this. So on that positive note, let's get the party started!

First I had to figure out how this whole rig-up was going to work. I can tell you this: DO THIS OUTSIDE. I have seen people doing similar projects in their bathtubs and maybe with much smaller pieces of fabric that would work, but just trust me here, use your garage rafters, or a tree, or a fence, something.

I decided on my garage rafters mostly because it was raining and I needed to accomplish this during nap time (about 2 hrs. I know, so lucky he's a good napper!) But otherwise, I would have popped off the end caps on my cheap-o adjustable curtain rod, threaded a rope through it, and rigged a pulley system over a tree branch. If you do this project, I really, really think that is the best way to go. But anywhoozle, instead of pulling my curtain up, I moved the dye bath down...

First I started with the curtain solidly hung in the rafters, and got it to the right height using whatever I could find that would work. The first was this plastic shelf from wally world. You may want to do your entire curtain. If so, then just start with it all in the dye and go up from there. Just be prepared to get messy.
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My sweet husband came out to lend his muscles and lift the giant tub of hot blue water.

I used Aquamarine and Navy dyes. More on how much I used in a minute.
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You're also going to need salt. About 2 cups worth. So make sure you've got a big thing of Morton's on hand.
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Then I filled the plastic tub with really hot water. We actually have an old washer/dryer hook-up in our garage, so I have hot water coming out of that hose, but otherwise I would fill in my bathtub, then add a pot of boiling water.
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Once I had the water level up to where I needed it on the curtain I added the salt. Now, I should have taken the curtain out to mix all of this, but I was lazy. That water was HOT, and that curtain was HEAVY, so I took the path of least resistance. Just remember that whether you mix it with or without the fabric in the water, get the fabric wet first. It will help it take in the color and it will pull the color up some and give it that fun watery edge look that ombre dyed patterns have.
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In goes the dye, I started with aquamarine and used about 2/3 of the bottle
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I didn't take a picture, but I found half of an old flag pole and used that to mix it all around. Any stick will do, even a branch in your yard, a paint mixing stick, etc.
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This is a terrible picture (it was raining and making the lighting situation a little complicated) but I wanted to show that once I let the curtain soak for two minutes, my husband lifted the tub and I switched out the plastic shelves for something a bit lower. In this case, it was my kid's picnic table with scrap wood. Once moved down, I added the rest of the aquamarine dye, plus about 2/3 of a second aquamarine bottle and mixed
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I let the next level set for 5 minutes, then we moved it down to these buckets and I added the first of my navy dye. I added about half the bottle, but I wish I'd added a little less so it didn't go quite so dark. This level set for 8 minutes
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Then after 8 minutes, it went down to the floor and I added the rest of the navy dye
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Here is my whole timeline
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I basically just tacked an extra 3 minutes on to the soak time per level. I don't know if this is right, it's just what I did. And I soaked each level for the time labeled on it. As in, it soaked for 2 minutes, we moved it down, then I timed it for 5. When we moved it down after that, I timed it for 8, etc. So the entire piece took 41 minutes.

And once we were down to the ground, I just started pulling the plastic tote out and away from the curtain to keep the next section of fabric out of the dye bath. It definitely did drip on the concrete though, so again, this would be so much easier outside.

And back to my pulley over a high tree branch idea, the rinsing would be so much easier that way, too. I laid this out (in the rain) and I propped the top up on another plastic bin to keep the dye away from the white fabric. But if it were on a bar pulled up, then I could have just started the hose from the top and rinsed downward insuring I didn't get any of the darker dye on the lighter part
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I rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed. I put it in that bin with soap (leaving the white part out) and soaped and soaped and then rinsed and rinsed. All in the rain, and all to try and make sure that the top stayed nice and white. But I still really wanted to put it in the washing machine since the top got all dingy being dragged around...
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I thought by rinsing and washing that it would prevent it from bleeding, but it didn't...
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Fortunately though, it didn't bleed too much, and I'm just going to pretend it's supposed to look that way

If you look closely you can see where the dye didn't all take evenly.
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You don't see it when the curtain is hanging really, but again, if I could have hung it straight up and down outside and let it sit for a while longer, maybe 20 minutes making the dye set for a full hour before starting the rinsing, that might have helped. Or maybe I should have added more salt? Maybe both?

Here is a picture of them in natural light
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You see the splotches more but it's more the angle and the light coming in from behind. It was still raining this morning and that bathroom is impossible to photograph, so this was the best I could get.

So from start to finish this is how my project went:

You will need
1.Curtains or fabric of choice (You can find the $35 set I used from Ikea here)
2.Rit dye in the colors of your choice. I used almost 2 full bottles of aquamarine and one full bottle of navy. You can find the navy here: Rit Dye Liquid Fabric Dye, 8-Ounce, Navy Blue the aquamarine is on amazon, too but it's like $9 and you can get it at Walmart for less than $4 so that's up to you!
3.Morton's Salt
4.A Bucket or large plastic tote or anything else that will fit your fabric and that you don't mind pouring dye into
5.HOT water
6.A mixing stick
7.A way to suspend your fabric
8.Straight pins to mark your levels if you wish for them to be really precise (I just guesstimated)
9.A hose or other way to rinse, rinse, RINSE that fabric

To dye the curtains:
1.Fill tub with HOT water and soak curtain to desired height
2.Pour in about 2 cups of salt, mix
3.Pour in lighter color dye, mix. I used about 2/3 bottle
4.Soak for 2 minutes
5.Move to next level and pour in remaining bottle plus another 2/3 bottle of same color, mix
6.Soak 5 minutes
7.Move to next level. Pour in darker color dye, mix. I used about 1/2 bottle, but wished I'd gone a little lighter and maybe just done 1/4 of the bottle
8.Soak 8 minutes.
9.Move to next level. Pour in remaining bottle of darker dye, mix
10.Soak 11 minutes.
11.Move to next level (no more dye though)
12.Soak 15 minutes
13.Remove and rinse like crazy
14.Wash, hang to dry
15.Iron if you wish
16.Hang, and Enjoy!

Obviously, this can be done a million different ways. But maybe this will at least help get you started!

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