diy project: dip-dye lamp & pillow

when summer rolls around, i try as hard as possible to freshen up the cave that is my apartment. while the darkness does help to keep rooms cool, the mood can get a little depressing if i don’t inject a jolt of summer here and there. if you have a plain fabric lampshade, pillow, or any scrap fabric lying around, then you can easily create a completely new set of home textiles that have a lovely airiness and fresh color. dip dye is a very easy process; you can adjust the color saturation in a snap by adding water or dye, and you just keep dipping until you like the results! it’s good to have a few scrap pieces of fabric around for color tests, and a nice outdoor spot or some tarp to work on (as you can probably guess, it can get a bit drippy). you can also mix dyes to make an amazing range of hues, so feel free to experiment. have fun! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


1. buckets of various sizes (a small trash can also came in handy)
2. any liquid or powder dye suitable for textiles (i used RIT dye but have also seen these dyes at craft stores. i find liquid easier to work with, but it’s also more expensive)
3. fabric or a pillowcase (pre-washed)
4. fabric lampshade (light colored ones work best)
5. rubber gloves (helpful for keeping hands clean)
6. spray bottle with water

dye: $5-10

1-2 hours (including drying time)

1. mix your dyes in the buckets according to the instructions on the dye packets. most dyes recommend adding warm water. if you have enough buckets, its good to have two buckets with the same color but at different saturation. if you need to use the same bucket for the whole project, and you want an ombre effect, simply start with your dye at its least concentrated, then add dye as you go, continuing to dip the item deeper into the bucket.

2. dampen your fabric or lampshade by spritzing it with water all over. you want it to be damp but not dripping. this helps it take in the dye evenly.

3. slowly dip your fabric or lampshade into the dye. for the pillowcase, you can fold the fabric to a smaller width before dipping; the dye will still create an even horizontal line across the fabric.

4. dip several times at different depths. to create the ombre effect, add dye to your dye bucket after dipping several times,  you will see a darker line of color, blending nicely into the previously dyed area. adjust your dye or water ratio to accordingly to achieve the desired ombre fade. you can always be working with a test strip as you go to test results.

5. once you’ve finished dipping a piece, you can hang it from a clothesline outside (or inside over a scrap towel) to dry. once it is dry beyond dripping, you can place it on  a scrap towel or paper towels to let it dry completely.

6. once the lampshade is completely dry, you can place it back on your lamp! once the fabric is dry, you can sew it into a pillow case. you can also dip-dye napkins, table linens, sheets, etc…just pre-wash them and dampen them before you begin the dye process.


  1. I’ve never done a dip dye before, but that lamp is so pretty – I just might have to try it.
    XO Piper

  2. Kenn says:

    I think we’re on the cusp of a new trend. I’ve been seeing a lot of dip dyed, gradient, and ombré fabrics popping up all over the place lately. I’m a big fan, so I hope it matures into something permanent.

  3. michele says:

    I definitely want to do this. I was actually looking for some kind of how-to like this two days ago. I have one of those old fashioned, cream, pleated lampshades (i don’t know what kind of fabric it is). Do you think this technique will work on that?

  4. I like this project idea! Thanks!

  5. Jennifer says:

    The liquid dyes cost a bit more, but the bottles last a long time. If you live near a chain craft store, you can use their coupon to get the dye at a discount too.

    I love these projects, but would you recommend rinsing or washing the pillowcase after dying to remove any excess that might transfer to other surfaces? Not an issue with the shade, of course.

  6. Summer says:

    I love the pillow! Where could I go to find that great burlap-texture fabric?

  7. wendy D says:

    oh this is great! I have some old napkins that I’ve been pondering a new use for. Now I’m going to going to give them a blue makeover!

  8. laura says:

    Agreed, Jennifer! I was wondering this myself.

    Also, how does the dipping work with larger pieces of fabric, such as a sheet/tablecloth/shower curtain?

    Seems it would be hard to get a nice even gradient (like the beautiful one achieved on that pillowcase!) if you’ve got a lot of fabric bunched up in a small bucket. Would love any tips as I have a boring white shower curtain that’s making the rest of my bathroom look downright dirty.

  9. Thanks for this.. I have two nice linen lamp shades that were once white, but are starting to look a bit dingy. Have been thinking of dying them and this is just the push I needed!

  10. Kate says:


    you can definitely dip dye a larger piece of fabric like this. i recommend buying a large bucket or a cheap trashcan you can put a good amount of dye bath into. if you fold your sheet/shower curtain from left to right, until it is narrow enough to fit in the bucket, but still full length (don’t fold from top to bottom), you should be able to dip the sheet down and the dye will reach all of the fabric evenly. make sure your folds are clean and even, with no wrinkles, and you dip the sheet level to the dye bath, not at an angle- this will keep the gradient even. and yes, you should follow the setting instructions of the dye you purchased before using the fabric on your bed or shower. good luck!

  11. Morr says:

    Love this idea! Thanks for posting!

  12. Julia says:

    the lampshade is my favorite, what a cool idea!!

  13. ImSoVintage says:

    What a fun idea and so practical, because just about everyone has an old lampshade they don’t know what to do with. Thanks for helping to keep them out of the landfills.

  14. Emily says:

    I’ve actually used large, shallow containers (like the ones that are for under-the-bed storage) to dye larger sheets and things too.

  15. Shannon says:

    I love this idea! I live in a Brooklyn cave of my own, can’t wait to try it. Might be fun to get some batik supplies as well and try that on a lampshade. Fun!

  16. laura says:

    a trash can – good idea. thanks kate! I am going to try this immediately!

  17. Frannie says:

    I just dip dyed a purse this past weekend. I wish I would have had these instructions when I did mine. Love it!

  18. meg says:

    I recommend Dharma Trading Co.’s dyes over Rit. They’re a little more work since they’re powdered, but much higher quality–they won’t fade as much as Rit does after multiple washings. And the color range is spectacular.

    Dharma Trading also sells ready-to-dye pillow covers in cotton and silk.

  19. meg says:

    Suggestion for the leftover dye: If it’s a dark color, you can use it to overdye any stained/bleach spattered kitchen towels. It’s an experiment if you’re dyeing colored towels, but it’ll blend in any stains, maybe make them look better.

  20. Kristin says:

    Amazing…I can’t wait to try this on wall sconces

  21. Lia says:

    I’m a thirteen year old girl looking for DIYs to do without any big power tools (which I don’t have), and this seems pretty cool for a lamp I have in my room… It would look really nice, and I think I’ll definitely try it if I can convince my parents… :)

  22. Laurie Stayton says:

    I love the lamp shade! The colors are perfect for what I need. Did you use just orange dye in assorted strengths or add another color to get the darkest shade near the bottom?

  23. Tarun Modi says:

    Really, the fantastic examples! This blog sets a good trend of DIY dyeing projects. The results seen are just amazing. Seems less costlier too. Cheers!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.