Snow Dyeing


  • White cotton fabric for dyeing; if not PFD (prepared for dyeing), it will need to be washed to remove the sizing
  • Salt
  • Soda ash or washing soda crystals
  • Procion dyes
  • Teaspoon
  • Empty drinks bottles, with sports caps if possible; one for each dye colour
  • Bucket
  • Snow

Skill Level


Where to buy

Fabric for dyeing and Procion dyes are available from a wide variety of suppliers including Art Van Go, Whaleys of Bradford and Kemtex Educational Supplies.

Getting Started

  1. Fill a sink or plastic bucket with warm water; add salt and soda ash. Stir to dissolve and then add the fabric and leave it to soak for about 30–45 minutes. The amount of salt and soda ash required depends of the size of the fabric being dyed. For 4m of fabric, Gillian uses a tablespoon of salt and a cup of soda ash (you need twice the amount of washing soda crystals).
  2. For each dye colour, half fill a drinks bottle with water and add a scant teaspoon of dye. Put the cap on and shake until the dye powder is completely dissolved. Fill the bottle to the top with water.

Snow Dyeing

  1. Half fill a bucket with snow. Wring out the fabric and place it on top of the snow, then cover the fabric with more snow.
  2. Squirt dye onto the snow. Use a mixture of colours and try different patterns to get interesting effects.
  3. Leave the bucket for at least 30 minutes, but ideally overnight, to allow the dye to migrate through the snow and onto the fabric.
  4. Either take the bucket indoors and wait for the snow to melt before removing the fabric or just take the fabric straight out of the snow.
  5. Rinse the fabric until the water runs clear. If you prefer, rinse the fabric in your washing machine, using a colour catcher in with the fabric.
  6. Leave the fabric to dry and then iron it. You now have a unique piece of fabric to use in your patchwork projects.

Stay safe!

  • Soda ash is classified as non-toxic but can be a mild irritant to skin and the eyes, nose and throat, so wearing a face mask and gloves is a wise precaution.
  • Procion dyes need to be used with care as the undissolved powder is hazardous. When handling the dye powder, it is advisable to use a mask and gloves; use only in a wellventilated area and keep away from foodstuffs. Take care to keep the dye powders away from children and pets.
  • Once in a liquid form, the dyes are safe to handle, although they will stain hands and clothing, so be prepared and wear protective clothing.
  • Any utensils used should be kept exclusively for dyeing; do not use them for foodstuffs once they have been in contact with dyes.

Simple Cushion

  1. Decide what size you would like your cushion to be and cut a piece of fabric 1in wider by twice the length + 1in. For example, if you would like your cushion to be 12in high x 18in long, cut a piece of fabric 13 x 37in. Cut a piece of wadding the same size.
  2. Matching up the raw edges, place the fabric wrong side down on top of the wadding; pin or tack in place.
  3. Quilt using fancy pre-programmed machine stitches. If you like, before quilting, you could appliqué other fabrics onto your main piece of fabric.
  4. When you have finished quilting, fold the panel in half right sides together. Using a 1⁄2in seam allowance, sew around two of the edges and half of the third edge, taking a few reverse stitches where you stop stitching to secure the seam.
  5. Trim the excess wadding away from the seam allowances, taking care not to snip your stitches. Turn the cushion right side out through the gap.
  6. Stuff with polyester toy filling or leftover pieces of wadding that have been cut into small pieces; make sure you add enough stuffing so the cushion in nice and full. Slipstitch the gap closed, plump up your cushion and enjoy!

Stay Safe!

  • Be careful with scissors, pins and needles, and remember that irons get very hot. Please ask an adult to help you with these.
  • If you need help to use a sewing machine, ask your adult helper if you can work the foot pedal while they guide the fabric.

First published in Popular Patchwork March 2012