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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dyeing Ikea Slipcovers

Oh I love my turquoise couch! I know the bright color might not be for everyone, but I get a big smile on my face every time I walk into the room. My kids are over the moon with this happy palette.

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I have the Ektorp sofa and chair from Ikea. Although they do have 10 different fabric choices none really suited our home. For the past year every time I went to Ikea I would check out their “Dent and Ding” section and generally would come away with 2-3 of the plain white slipcover pieces for around $3.00 each. I was really excited when last month I found the last cushion cover I needed.

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Most new fabric is treated with “sizing”. If you are using new slipcovers such as I did you will want to wash the fabric with detergent to removing the sizing.

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Take the wet fabric out of the machine and set it aside. Fill up your machine with the hottest temperature of water. Add in your dye. (I selected “aquamarine” by Rit.) I used one bottle for every 3 cushion covers at a medium water level and two bottles for the large couch frame slipcover at the extra high water level.  The directions say to add 1 cup of salt to the dye bath per bottle of dye used. The salt “sets” the dye. This is an important step. Do not skip it unless you want the dye to fade out when the slipcovers are washed in the future.

st. pats 006

After the washing machine has finished its cycle line dry all of the slipcovers to prevent them from further shrinking. When they are almost dry go ahead and put the slipcovers on the furniture frame/cushions and smooth any wrinkles out with your hands. This is a sneaky way of getting out of ironing.

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The cotton upholstery fabric was covered in a consistent shade of aquamarine dye. I was really pleased with the results.

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I paired the bright couches with navy, chartreuse and white accessories. The pop of yellow from the flowers works well too.

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So what are you going to dye first?


Linking to:


Patti said...

I wish I could dye some slipcovers. I have a newer machine with a low water level, so nothing can soak in it. I think I am out of luck. Yours looks great. A nice pop of color that we need here in michigan. Still in the grips of winter.

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Super Laura!
I love it, and i love the colors you chose, so pretty and so thrifty too.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Ohhhhhhhhhh it looks WONDERFUL Laura! I loveee that color!!

{Bellamere Cottage} said...

Great job Laura! They look fabulous....


ImagiMeri said...

Oh's so bright and pretty like you. That really did liven things up. Great job.

Love ya'

Kelley Dibble said...

I'm dieing to dye something, and for this first venture that would likely be a tablecloth. We'll see!

I cannot buy Rit here, but Guam has several colors. Hmmm.

I sure love your selection, and I have a feeling my choice would be a color found in the sea... Oh, yeah.

The results you have are fantastic! What a joy to just look at it, sit upon it, sit on the floor next to it and hug it, um, need I go on?!

Happy week,

Laura Turner said...

Thanks for sharing this, Laura. I haven't had the courage to dye anything, and I never knew about the "dent and ding" section at IKEA. Turquoise is a very refreshing color for me as well, and I would love a way to "summerize" my English hunt club look in my family room! I'll have to be on the lookout for some slipcovers! Have a great week!
Laura from

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Laura, the aqua turned out fabulous. You are definitely the queen of useing dye. I love the new look. Hugs, Marty

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

I love them! One day I'm going to get up the nerve to try your dying technique!


It looks AWESOME!!! Love the color!

angsays said...

I love it! I have a red sofa and love it. I found you via Someday Crafts.

Anglea Says: Tips for a Cleaner Home

Karen Albert said...

Bravo Laura! Your living room is a breath of fresh air for springtime!
The color is perfect and came out so even.
Art by Karen

8)(8 said...

Love turquoise and aqua! Love how it turned out. So happy!

Have you seen their new velvet turquoise or gray panels with black out on the back?

openid said...

WOW! Like Sweet Boy Gun and The Fashionista, I am over the moon for the pop of color added to your living room! You are a brave soul. I can't believe the consistency of the color in both pieces of furniture. I won't even color my own hair! :D
Your Friend,

Vel Criste said...

I cannot believe you just dyed this cover, it is gorgeous Laura!!!! Looks store-bought, i love that pop of blue color in your living room!

Mari said...

Geeeeezzzzz this turned out beautiful, I love the color, I could sit there all day with a smile on my's such a pretty happy color ;)


Auntie Em said...

Your slipcovers and cushions are all so perfect! They took the dye so well and the colour is so pretty. Definitely worth the wait to get all the covers at such a great bargain! It certainly looks like spring in your home!
Thanks for sharing! :)

Linda said...

I looks very cheery. :)

I've used Rit twice this past winter/spring - but not in a fun way - I missed Sarah's favorite lacy top (cream colored) in with her red jeans and so the first time I used Rit color remover, it didn't work and I ended up having to order her a replacement. Then when I did it AGAIN... I used the correct cream-colored (white) Rit and it looks perfect, just like new. And now, I'm more careful...... lol.


Louise said...

Very brave of you, and it it turned out beautifully. I love the pillows with the slips. Do you still have a set of white covers should you want to go that route again>

Maria said...

What a great idea! We have that same IKEA couch at home, it's white and I've been wanting to buy a different cover for it, this is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!! I may just have to give this a try!

Blondie's Journal said...

I love it! You are a trailblazer with that pretty turquoise and it does go well with yellow accents. Great job!


Craftymoose Crafts said...

It is gorgeous!!!! I love the color! I think I would be afraid to dye anything in my washer for fear that it would turn the next load the same color!

Lorrie said...

Oooh, so pretty. Fresh and springlike. It's a room that makes me want to dance! Great job, Laura.

Judy K said...

What a great look. I love the turquoise. I would have never thought of dying the slipcovers. Great idea.

Something Nice and Pretty said...

So very pretty! The yellow does go so well with the aqua!

Something Nice and Pretty said...

So very pretty! The yellow does go so well with the aqua!

Late Bloomers said...

I bought a lovely [but faded] blue wool blanket at Salvation Army a few weeks ago for $4, and dyed it in the washer with Rit powder [and vinegar] to a lovely shade of Lavendar purple. I tend to make the dye bath in a bucket while the item gets wet in the washer, add the dye to the washer, let it agitate a bit, then stop it and let it soak for 30 minutes. Then I restart the machine and let it ride out.
Alas the wool blanket was very when the machine started to spin and broke the washer! Hubby was able to fix it with a $20 part, thankfully, otherwise I would never have lived that down!
Salvation Arm often has lovely open weave cotton blankets for $4, the dye very nicely as well and come out looking new!

Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam said...

Love how well they dyed! So awesome when projects turn out that wonderful :) And I'm so impressed that you got all your slip covers so cheap! I'm not nearly as patient I don't think!

Charm Bracelet Diva said...

We have the Ektorp sofa and chair/ottoman as well. The sofa is dark denim and the chair/ottoman is blue and white striped. I wanted white but the kids, etc. (Ended up getting white slipcovers for another couch, anyway!) I love them. Yours is fabulous! Love the color. I've always been a bit afraid to try the whole dyeing thing. Maybe now I will.....

Angela Conley said...

Great job! This color is perfect for spring and for livening up the space. I love your palette too---very well coordinated!

Maureen said...

I don't know what I'm going to dye but something is going to get it after seeing this!

Sweet Auburn Life said...

Looks fantastic Laura! Those paisley cushions are perfect with it, well done!

Debbie said...

I love how it turned out! I don't have an IKEA closer than four hours from me and really wish I did. I would love to shop there.

I am actually a big fan of dying things but realized reading this that I had not done it in a long time. I've also never taken on such an ambitious dying project. It looks wonderful!

GSGreatEscaper said...

Gorgeous! Inspiring!

I found Roman shades at Ikea for $3.00 and bought them all, even though I had no idea what to use them for. Ended up with 2 in daughter's room, and I also found that one would fit the opening of my closet perfectly so I took off the terrible sliding doors that would not allow access to the middle of the closet, and put on the shade. Perfect! One more is still waiting for inspiration to strike.....

Elizabeth (Blue Clear Sky) said...

What a great idea! I love turquoise and I can see this might be a future project. Your sofas look lovely and the accent pillow material is very pretty.

Lady Dorothy said...

Only one word: Fabulous!

Toni Barsi said...

That color is so lovely! We have the same sofa/chair had set and have had a white slipcover hidden in the closet for a year now that I planned to dye green. I've just always been nervous about dyeing in the washer since we live in an apartment. I'd love to know if there ended up being any staining to your machine so I could give this a try myself!

Kristol Faucheux said...

Laura, so excited to find this. We have the Ektorp too (currently the red), but would like something else. Just like you, their current color selection don't fit our decor. Can't wait to get a white set and do something fun and new!!

Unknown said...

I was wondering if you wash it out with either water or soap to get the salt off? Or is that not even a problem? Your example is beautiful and I plan to follow it to a T. Thank you,

Unknown said...

I was wondering if you wash it out with either water or soap to get the salt off? Or is that not even a problem? Your example is beautiful and I plan to follow it to a T. Thank you,

Marissa said...

Hello! I love this post. It inspired me to take the plunge and try to dye my Ikea slipcovers as well. I'm a little nervous, especially since I wanted to use a color combo (Kelly Green and Lemon Yellow). When you dyed your sofa, how many cups of water would you say was in the large load? I'm trying to gauge how much dye to water ratio I'll need of the two? I may just have to be gutsy and go with it, knowing I may have to dye it darker another time.

Melissa @ Honeybee Vintage said...

Love it! I have the karlstad couch and I'm planning on doing the same thing. Did the dye stain any part of the machine like the spinner or lid? We rent and I don't want to ruin the machine!

Carol said...

Love the way it turned out. Have you had any problems with the dye rubbing off on people's clothing? We have a chair from idea and are in the same boat. None of their colors work for us. Also, do you have any more tips or tricks for dyeing that you would like to share? Thanks for your help and GOOD JOB!

Carol said...

Love the way it turned out. Have you had any problems with the dye rubbing off on people's clothing? We have a chair from idea and are in the same boat. None of their colors work for us. Also, do you have any more tips or tricks for dyeing that you would like to share? Thanks for your help and GOOD JOB!

awal.ny said...

I stopped by because of your beautiful slipcovered chair but I had to stay and visit some of your posts. Love this slipcover color, it is perfect for summer. I am going to have to be on the lookout for an extra slipcover to change the color. Alaina

elliptiClaire said...

Hi Laura -
These are so pretty - they remind me of robin's eggs. I have the same loveseats and am going to do the same colour.
Ive washed them before but never in hot water - makes me nervous about shrinkage. Did you have any issues with that?
If you don't mind, a couple more questions from this scaredy-cat first time dyer:
Did you use regular iodized salt?
Your dye amounts seem low compared to the instructions on the bottle based on weight given that each loveseat cover set weighs ~11 lbs. But I love your colour so if that's what it took, that's what I'll do.
The piece that worries me is the huge base slipcover that goes over/under the whole thing. How did you handle that in the washing machine to get the colour even? Did you take it in and out or move it around during?
Thank you so much for talking me through, my slipcover-transformation counsellor!

Claire :)

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Hi Claire,

Thank you for your kind comments.

The only shrinkage I found was near the bottom hem area on both the sofa and chair of about 1 inch.

Yes, I used basic iodized salt~ Morton's I think.

I used 1 bottle of dye for every 3 cushion covers and 2 bottles for the sofa undercover. The total was 6 bottles of dye for the two furniture pieces shown to create in this color.

My machine is quite large. You may want to visit a laundromat if your machine is not when dying the sofa undercover.

Lastly, if you have never used fabric dye before you may want to start out with a few smaller projects. I dye t shirts, dish towels, tablecloths all the time.

Best of luck!

elliptiClaire said...

Thank you Laura for the advice and the encouragement. I'll let you all know how it goes!

:) Claire

Trouble Gum said...

This is awesome! Thanks for posting

PJ Rose said...

Hi Laura,

Like you, I keep checking Ikea and none of their Ektorp colors or patterns work. I want a Wedgwood blue, a little deeper than sky or baby blue. I'm looking for something like the color in the photo of the back or arm closest to the bottom left of your top photo.

I'm about to just get one of the boring beige covers, but then noticed the price of the plain white. If i get white and mess up on dying, there's not too much lost :)

So my questions -

First, did your colors really come out the same, even though you used different amounts of dye for the pillow cover loads and the main section load? In the first picture I can see about 3-4 different shades - or is that lighting?

To get everything exactly the same, perhaps I should dye it all together in the bathtub (which, thankfully, is blue so I'm not worried about discoloring it LOL).

Second, my machine is an older KitchenAid, which says it has a 3 cubic ft tub capacity. If you did the main sofa piece on your machine, how big is your machine's capacity?

Any other advice?


Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Hi PJ,

My sofa cover was the same exact shade all over. I have a basic, standard sized Maytag. I checked and could not find any capacity info. My apologies. But it is a standard size.

The white covers are a great value. As always, wash the covers first to remove the fabric sizing. Line dry always.

Let me start off by saying that as an Interior Designer I have taken college classes just on color theory and using the color wheel to combine colors to the desired shade.
I also familiarized myself with the dyeing process by dyeing several smaller items (napkins, a blouse, pillowcases) so that I became very familiar with how RIT works.

You will want to start out by going on to the RIT site to see if the Wedgwood Blue color combo is available. It gets VERY tricky when you try to create a non standard color by mixing dyes.

Recently a friend of mine brought her Ektorp cover to me to help her. She wanted a silvery grey with blue undertones. So, we had to mix 3 colors. I explained to her that it is a whole lot tougher to get the coverage/color you want when custom mixing.

Just to be safe I boiled some water in a tea kettle and using a teaspoon added the dye, keeping track of the amounts, mixing very well and then added it to more water in a stainless steel sink and then we dyed in small amounts.

In the end the color was even, but a shade off from what she wanted. But, because I had forewarned her, she happily accepted the outcome.

As always the secret to even coverage with no splotches is to thoroughly mix the dye with very hot water (a recycled glass jar works well) before adding it to your washing machine, etc.

Don't skimp on the salt because that is what will "hold" your color when washing the pieces in the future.

Best of luck,


Erin Mullaney said...

These look gorgeous. My favorite color. Just purchased three bottles of Aquamarine Rit to dye my 6 Henriskdal chair covers. I think I'll use one bottle per three covers as you suggest. This is such a helpful post, thank you!

Kim said...

Hi Laura..can you help me? I just bought the same chair from a yard sale and it has a new white cover on it..boring..I have a new washer and I am afraid to use it, but I do have a portable washer that you hook up to a sink that is large enough to fit all the pieces to this chair in it. Do you think one thing of dye is enough to do all the pieces from the chair? and do you think it is ok to do them together? I am afraid if I do them separately they wont come out the same color..thank you so much for your help..wish me luck

Sandi said...

I had no idea it is so easy to dye things. Beautiful color, btw!

Bring Pretty Back said...

I also have the Ektorp couch from Ikea - I got mine in the clearance section with the pink slipcover. My house is decoraated in all pink - so it's perfect for me! I LOVE your dyed covers! Perfect!
Have a pretty day!

bethany (momma fox) said...

What is the material for your cover like? I was given a couch by my mother-in-law that has two custom covers. Both of which are not colors that I want our home. The darker one is a rust color and the lighter one is a very vague butter color. It is a cotton duck material. Do you think the very light cover would dye. I am interested in a medium to dark gray color so everything in the house does not have to be in the warm color family.

Amanda Tolman said...

Laura: I have slipcovers for two Ikea chairs I want to dye. They've already been washed multiple times. Do they need to be wet before I put them in with the dye and water or can they be dry?

Decor To Adore said...

Hi Amanda I hope you check back here. You are listed as a "No Reply" blogger and have no contact info listed on your Google+ profile. :(

The material should be wet. Often placing dry fabric into a dye bath results in a blotchy application of the dye. I have better results with wet fabric.

Best of luck!