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DIY Indigo Dyed Picnic Blanket

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DIY Indigo Dyed Picnic Blanket

Katie Schur

I have this white, old quilt that I bought when Jake and I were moving into our first Massachusetts apartment. It was the first time that I 1. had a guest bedroom and 2. lived within a 30 mile radius of the ocean. So naturally I decided that I needed to decorate everything with a nautical theme. I decorated with blue accents and bought a white cotton quilt from TJ Maxx, which turned out to be a mistake. It was so hard to keep this white quilt clean, and no force of oxi-clean or bleach could keep that sucker sparkling white. Years later, the blanket has been hanging out in our attic... until yesterday.

The blanket got a makeover, and now is a lively beautiful indigo picnic blanket. The pattern reminds me of ocean waves, and the dark blue color will hide any grass stains. If you have an old sheet or blanket that's ready for a new life, this is such an easy DIY. Indigo dying dates back 5,000 years to the Egyptians, but lately its been spotted on everything from scarves, clothes and table settings. Why not on a picnic blanket too?

What you'll need: 
- An old blanket
- A water source (this is a project that's best suited for outside)
- An old storage tub (pick something that you don't mind getting stained from the dye)
- A place to dry the blanket (I chose an unused corner of our yard to avoid any kind of stains in the house). I took 2 full sunny days to dry. 

I also purchased a Jacquard Indigo Dye Kit, which included the following:
- Indigo dye
- A reducing agent (this kit used Soda Ash and thiox/hyrdosulfite)
- Gloves
- Rubber bands
- Wood pieces (I did not use these for the pattern that I created)


 

1. I filled the storage tub with approximately 4 gallons of warm tap water using our outside faucet.

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2.  I stirred in the indigo dye, soda ash and reduction agent. I stirred the mixture with a gloved hand, and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. 

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3. While the mixture was sitting, I prepared my blanket by folding it into a block of four squares and then accordian folding it into a long rectangle. Then securing it with rubber blands. The blanket that I used was a full/queen sized quilt. 

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4. When I returned to my dye vat, there was some foam that had accumulated at the top of the mixture. I removed that foam and then submerged my blanket. I let it sit there for 5 minutes. Note that the indigo dye liquid will be a yellow-ish green color. I was alarmed at first thinking that my blanket was going to be that color, but it begins to turn blue as the oxygen in the air reacts with the indigo. As the indigo dye oxidizes, it becomes trapped within the fibers making the dye permanent. 

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5. After 5 minutes of in the mixture, I removed my blanket. It was VERY heavy so in hindsight I should have set up the drying area closer to where I filled my dye dub. I was able to wheelbarrow it to my drying spot. It was too heavy to hang up so I just let it sit in the grass. It did take 2 full days in the sun to dry out. 

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I love how the paisley pattern of the quilt picked up all of the beautiful shades of blue. 

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And it looks lovely paired with white plates or other bright colors. I can't wait to use this for many picnics to come! Do you have a DIY project planned for labor day weekend? Or are you using the long weekend to just kick back and relax? Share your adventures with us @picnicperfectco

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