06/13 DIY

DIY Black Dip Dye Pillow

DIY Black Dip Dyed Pillow

Bad news: dip dying fabric to black is very hard to achieve.  Good news: this pillow was not dip dyed.

I did all my research and experimented with different fabric dying techniques and really, really tried to make it happen, but once I reached the point of yea this isn’t going to work, I reverted back to my initial instinct to just use paint.  It came out exactly the way I had hoped dip dying would and it was a million times easier, so we’ve got a winner here guys.

I’ve affectionately noticed these type of black ombre pillows in Scandinavian interiors, my favorites being the ones that are dramatically black then fade off quickly at the end.  Brushing on the paint allows the control needed to accomplish this effect that I found dip dying lacked.  There’s also a lot more texture from the brush strokes that I simply find pretty and well worth the lesser effort ;).

acrylic paint (This specific paint doesn’t require fabric medium.  For other regular acrylic paint, you must mix it with fabric medium.)
-wide paint brush
pillow case

paint 1

Mix acrylic paint and water in a roughly 2:1 ratio.  The water helps the paint spread better and you’ll end up using less of it.  Brush it on to the pillow working on top of a protective surface (aluminum foil works, sure!)

paint 2

Take the paint half way before brushing out the ombre effect.  The brush needs a minimal amount of paint at this point in order to get the strokes to fade.  Be careful not to flick the brush so that you don’t accidentally splatter paint.


After both sides are painted, dab each side with paper towels to remove as much excess paint as possible.  I did this about 3 times on each side.  Let pillow dry overnight.


Once dry, flip the pillow inside out and thoroughly heat set the paint on each side with an iron.

A few notes.  You can stop here and the pillow will have a hard, canvas texture where the paint is.  You may be perfectly cool with this, alright!  To soften the painted portion, machine washing helps but the paint will fade a bit (depending on how well it was set into the fabric) and will now feel like denim, which is an improvement but still not the original soft texture it was.  This is the down side to using paint over dye, but the results are visually far superior this way.

Black Dip Dyed Pillow DIY

Have you painted pillows before?  Anyone else know what I’m talking about regarding the agony of using black fabric dye?

DIY- Black Dip Dyed PillowPS.  A lot of you have asked about our sofa!  It’s the Nova Sofa in winter gray from Article.  Clean lines while still comfortably casual, exactly what we were looking for.

31 comments on “DIY Black Dip Dye Pillow”

  1. Beautiful!! Can’t wait to see what other ideas you have for pillows. Where can I purchase the area rug?

  2. Oh wow, that looks fantastic! Good for you for finding another way to do it when the dye didn’t work–it’s so frustrating when DIYs go wrong! Although I just bought a bunch of black dye for a project, so now I’m nervous. Was it just the dipping that was the problem?

    1. Thank you!
      The tricky thing with black dye is the undertones. The first dye I used had purple/red undertones and the second dye I used had blue, so when I tried to create the ombre fade with dip dying, these colors showed through a lot. Even the darkest portions that I soaked for 1hr+ were showing up purple/blue! Add on all the pre-washing, rinsing, post washing, and it was just a ton of work for results I didn’t want at all :\ I’m still hanging on to the hope that maybe I did something wrong that I still need to figure out, and I’m also hoping that whatever you do with the dye turns out well! Godspeed!!

      1. Ah, ok, thanks! Argh, I just had a dye fail, too, and yes, so much work for a result you don’t want is the worst! I was trying to overdye a quilt with indigo, and now I’m going to try the same piece with black + navy blue dye, so I probably won’t have the same problems you did (I’ll just likely have a different set of problems). Good luck figuring it out.

    1. Yea I haven’t painted a pillow in a longggg time but I also really like the idea ;) Thanks, Clarissa!

  3. I love how your pillow turned out, I had painted my napkins with acrylic paint as well and ended up with that canvas texture. Looks like we have to mix a fabric medium with acrylic paints for the softer touch or simply purchase fabric paints!

    1. OO, thanks for pointing that out! I forgot to mention that the specific paint I used doesn’t need fabric medium, although I wonder if adding fabric medium to it anyway would help with texture. Something to experiment with in the future! Thanks, Marwa!

  4. Your black pillow cover is amazing and it is redefining your whole living space. This is one of the bests DIY master piece I have seen. You are totally enthusiastic.

  5. OMG, you are freaking amazing! I love your posts, I love your honesty and most of all I love all your ideas. Thank you so much!!!

  6. Would you happen to know where that white wall shelf on the right is from? The one with the triangle stone. Love it, and it looks like it mounts to the wall at the top, is that right?

  7. Very cool project for those dull throw pillows ;). I’d love to know the sources of the shelving, desk and coffee table in your living room. It’s all so beautiful. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary! I did two very thorough posts on the sources for this room that you might want to check out! Everything on the desk area is here and everything else in the living room is here.

  8. If only I had seen this several years ago…

    Ombre to black is like the Holy Grail of craft to me. I’ve been trying for years to no avail but I see it manufactured and glare with envy. It is so refreshing to see that someone else has come to the same conclusion that it may, in fact, be impossible to ombre to black via fabric dye and that this same person has mastered a way to get the same effect! Big relief for me that I am not alone in the world.

    Two things to note:

    1. There might be an answer in this dip-dye black anomaly by using black ink. It is the last thing I haven’t fully tried yet but I believe there is a technique there somewhere that would pull off getting true black onto white fabric and retain the fabric’s natural texture and be resistant to fading.

    2. If using the above technique you may want to try latex paint and then lightly sanding the dried finished product. It can make it feel like suede but retain the color and be *extremely* fade proof.

    Thanks for this beautiful post and photo!

  9. Love the pillow!! And this whole aesthetic! Also! I’ve been looking for those white shelves with the black accent and I can’t find them anywhere! Where are yours from?

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