Snow Dyed Shibori Totes

Our first (and hopefully only?) snow storm hit us hard last week.  Trapped in the apartment, I started cleaning the studio and realized I had several pots of dye and blank totes…maybe I should try to snow dye?

limited edition snow dyed totes


A few phone calls to my fiber artist mother and a couple google searches later, I went to work!


First, I pressed my pre-washed all cotton totes.  I like to press the bags to ensure I get crisp lines of dye, but it is not necessary.


I folded the totes and bound the folds with heavy duty rubber bands.  I prepared the bags for dyeing by placing them in a two gallon bucket of hot water and soda ash.


I placed the bound bags in gallon size ziploc bags and went to get some snow!


Most snow dye techniques suggest you place the fabric/bags on a tray and then apply the snow and dye.  I can’t do that for two reasons.


First, all my trays that would be of an appropriate size are holding wet paintings.  Second, you have to let the trays sit for 24 hours undisturbed…who has that much space?  And oh my gosh, what a mess if one of the trays overflows or gets bumped?!? Too risky for me and the ziplocs are much more manageable.


I dumped the snow on top of the bound bags and then began adding dye.  I used Procion MX dyes and used one to two teaspoons per bag per color.  The tutorials I read said to use about 1/2 teaspoon, but if I am going to go to all this trouble I want bold COLORS…not whimpy colors.

The combo on the right was olive green and cerulean blue.  The combo on the left is actually only one color – aquamarine!


I placed the bags in a safe place and watched as the snow melted and the bags sat in a puddle of dye.  I was scared the two color bags would just rinse to a muddy brown because of the color combinations…but….


After 24 hours and rinsing each bag from cold to warm to cold and on to a hot dawn dishwashing soap bath for 30 minutes, one final rinse, then the washing machine on hot – whew – the bags turned out like this!


Here are my pros of snow dyeing:

  • the colors are more intense than traditional dyeing processes,
  • the snow does the work of distributing the dye, so it’s slightly less work prepping the bags, and
  • I couldn’t be my usual control freak self…so that’s a good thing? i think?

And the cons:

  • you need snow…not my favorite weather,
  • the brightest colors are harder to rinse. In my case the magenta was extremely difficult to rinse out, and
  • less control of color distribution…but maybe that’s a pro too!


I only created five bags and I would love to do more, but would rather not see any more snow!  So, I have placed these five on my etsy site!


I can’t pick a favorite…but I am really interested in how the burnt orange and cerulean blue combo turned out…

the soft black and magenta was really cool too…


and my go-to navy and magenta is always a favorite!



I have decided the only good thing about another snowstorm would be I could create a few more bags, but that is not enough for me to wish for more winter!