Create a hand dyed wool pillow to cozy up your home! See how to make your own DIY dip dye ombre wool pillow. The ombre effect on the wool creates a look that‘s at home in modern or traditional décor styles.
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When I think of fall decorating, I immediately think of leaves and pumpkins and “fall colors”. But you can add an element of fall to your décor without necessarily using fall colors. Fall decorating also means adding cozy elements to your home, and those can come in any color of the rainbow.
This dip dye ombre wool pillow is a perfect example. I made a pair of them for my mother’s house. And while there are no “fall colors’ in them, they’re made from a 100% wool that I dip dyed in shades of teal and dark green that match the woodwork in my mother’s 1920s home.
Look how pretty that wool pillow paired with a hand knit blanket!
What I love about these pillows is that they’re both cozy and modern at the same time, much like how my mom decorates her home. The wool (oh, that texture!) gives it the cozy, while the ombre dip dye gives it a modern edge.
Fall is the perfect time to sew up some cozy new decor for your house, or maybe a warm scarf for yourself! Check out my fall sewing roundup for more cozy fall sewing projects.
The cool thing about making your own DIY dip dye ombre pillow is that you can make them in any color combo. And even with buying the 100% wool felt yardage (which isn’t cheap) I was still able to make my wool pillow for a fraction of the cost I’d seen online.
Some Things to Keep In Mind
Dying fabric (or felt, in my case) is actually pretty easy. There’s actually not that much to do. But with any dye project, it’s kind of an all-day thing. Or at least an all afternoon thing. You won’t be actively working on it the whole time, but you’ll need to be around to monitor, adjust the fabric, etc. So this is an easy project, but not a quick or last-minute project.
Also you can’t really know what it’s going to look like until it’s all done. You just have to let the dye do its thing. You may end up with a shade lighter or darker than expected, but that’s kind of the charm.
The RIT Dye packaging has all the information you need, but it’s written in a teeny tiny font on the inside of the box. You can also go to their website and to read instructions in a normal size font.
The one thing that was a little stressful was me overthinking my supplies. Rit is not food safe dye so to be on the safe side, I used things that were either disposable or were not kitchen tools.
I’ve got a supply list below, along with a run-down of the process. It’s kind of a long list, but it’s mostly stuff you’ll have around the house. I figured it might be easier to collect all the stuff up ahead of time rather than looking around for supplies as you go. I’ve already done the overthinking for you, ha!
Once you’ve got the felt dyed, it’s easy to sew it into a pillow. I opted for making removable pillow covers with an invisible zipper in the bottom. I’ve got a tutorial here showing how to do that part.
Supplies I used to dye felt for a 14” pillow
The supply list below is just for dying the felt. You’ll also need a pillow form and invisible zipper for each pillow you want to sew.
- 100% wool felt – 2 pieces 16” x 16” per pillow. I used this wool felt from JOANN. It’s expensive (and only 36” wide!) but I used a coupon to bring the price down. And a yard of fabric was enough to make two pillows
- Rit dye in the colors you want.
- Rit Color Stay Dye Fixative
- 1 cup vinegar per color of dye
- Large bucket(s) capable of holding 5 gallons of water
- Disposable plastic or vinyl gloves
- 2 Solo cups, or other large disposable plastic containers. (Only necessary if using powdered dye.)
- Something to stir the dye that you won’t need to use again. For me that was plastic spoons and a paint stir stick.
- Dollar Tree plastic tablecloth or other plastic tarp
- Large plastic clips
- Old towels you don’t care about
- Plastic spray bottle (can get one from Dollar Tree)
Cutting and Preparing the Felt
Even though the felt is already, well… felted, it will still shrink some when put through the dying process. So you’ll need to account for that shrinkage when cutting your felt. That’s why, for a 14” pillow, I cut squares that are 16” each. During the dye process they shrunk roughly an inch on all sides, leaving me with 15” squares which were the size I needed for 14” pillows.
I’ve taken that into account in the dimensions of the felt in the supplies list. But if you’re planning on making a different size pillow, you’ll need to account for at least an inch of shrinkage in each direction. (The larger the finished pillow, the more you need to allow for shrinkage.)
You’ll also need to wash the felt in warm soapy water before dying it. I just washed it at my kitchen sink with some mild dish detergent.
Mixing the Dye
Before you start any of the dye process, make sure you change into clothes you don’t care about in case you drip dye on them.
Now to mix the dye. I was lucky in that I was able to find Rit dye in the colors I wanted for this project. I used Teal for the top of the pillow and Dark Green for the bottom. If you’re looking for a specific color, the Rit Dye website has recipes for mixing dyes to create a wide range of other colors.
I used the powder dye, which needs to be dissolved in 2 cups of warm water before being added to the rest of the water in the bucket. As luck would have it I didn’t have a large enough disposable container, so I split the dye powder between 2 Solo cups and then poured 1 cup of water into each cup.
I stirred both cups with a plastic spoon to dissolve the powder, then poured them both into my bucket of warm water. Next I added the vinegar. I stirred it all together with a large paint stir stick.
My bucket was a basic 5-gallon bucket from the hardware store. I used an old plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Tree underneath to protect my driveway. Those tablecloths make great dropcloths and I always keep a few on hand.
I chose to use a separate bucket for each color because I didn’t want to worry with pouring out the dye and rinsing the buckets between colors.
Dying the Felt
Normally when you dye something you just dunk the whole thing into the dye bath and stir it around. But for an ombre or dip dye effect, you’ll just dip the edges, lowering it further into the dye bath at intervals to create layered shades.
Here’s how I created the ombre effect on the pillows I made:
First, dip one edge of the felt into the dye about 2-3 inches and let it sit there in the dye bath for 30 minutes. Then, lower the felt a little further into the dye, and let it sit there for another 20 minutes or so. When it comes out, you’ll have two stripes, the bottom darker than the top. Wearing gloves to protect your hands, gently wring out the excess dye and then repeat these steps with the other side of the square of felt. I left a section in the middle of the felt undyed.
My photo shows 4 pieces of felt because I was making 2 pillows. I wanted the ombre to follow roughly the same lines on the front/back of each pillow, so I dipped the felt in pairs - one pair of felt squares on each side of the bucket.
To hold the felt in place, I used some large clips draped over the edge of the bucket. I layered shop towels over the felt before putting the clips on to protect the felt from any dirt or sharp edges on the clips.
Here is what it looks like after one side dyed with the Teal.
And now the second side with the Dark Green.
Setting the Dye
Now it’s time for the Rit Color Stay Dye Fixative. This helps the felt retain more color from the dye so the colors will be nice and vibrant in your wool pillow. The instructions give several methods for applying the fixative, but the one that looked easiest for me was the spray method. Basically you just spray the fixative on and let it sit out in the sun while it sets.
The black tarp they are laying on is just a black trash bag. I was lazy and didn’t feel like cleaning the dye off of my tarp before doing the fixative, so I just grabbed a black trash bag to use as a tarp.
You’ll notice that the felt squares are kind of wonky and misshapen at this point. When you’re laying them out for the fixative you can ease them back into more square shaped pieces.
I just poured the fixative into a Dollar Tree spray bottle and sprayed it on the felt. To make sure I got good coverage, I sprayed both the front and the back of each square. I used one bottle of fixative for 4 felt squares.
Once the fixative has set, you can run it through your wash on a gentle cycle with mild detergent to wash out the excess dye. This is what my squares looked like when they came out of the wash.
At this point you can trim your squares to be a more perfect 15". I just had to take a few bits off here and there to square them up. Also, if your squares have shrunk in a little too much in one place or another, you can use an iron and medium pressure to stretch the wool out just a little. Just be sure to iron from the middle out. If you pull and tug at just the edges, you'll end up with wavy sides.
Now your squares are dyed and squared up and ready to be sewn into a gorgeous wool pillow! If you want to put in an invisible zipper like I did, here is how to make a pillow with an invisible zipper.