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Don't Die Trying to Keep Your Couch Clean, Tie-Dye it!

This is our couch. I love it. It's a good size for hubby and me to stretch out and enjoy a good movie night, and the deep seats make it oh so comfy!

But constantly washing those white covers all the time is not fun. The stains aren't obvious in this photo, but they are there! Eating dark chocolate on it is the worst...and I'm not going to stop eating my favourite food group on my favourite couch!

I've had this couch for several years. It came to Queensland with me when I moved here from Sydney a couple of years ago, and we added the chaise to it earlier this year. I hope to have it for many years to come, but if it's going to stay I need to find a solution to my stain-exposing, dirt-revealing couch cushion covers! So, as much as I love the bright, crisp, clean white, I'm going to dye them using a resist dying technique – perhaps more commonly known as tie-dying. Don't think – that time I tie dyed a t-shirt with every colour of the rainbow when I was in primary school (not that it wasn't awesome!). Think Shibori – a Japanese dyeing technique that typically involves folding, twisting or bunching fabric and binding it, then traditionally dyeing it in indigo.

I'm pretty pleased with the result so am happy enough to share what I did here! For now, I've just started with the seat cushion covers, as these are the ones that need washing more often. Perhaps in years to come I'll need to dye the back covers too!



– NAVY BLUE FABRIC DYE – make sure you have enough dye for the amount of fabric you intend to dye. I used two packets for my seat covers (see image below)





– SALT (optional – as suggested by my fabric dye packet instructions for best colour results when dying cotton)

ONE //

This will work best if you're starting with white fabric or a lighter coloured fabric. Make sure that you know what fabric it is that you're dying as not all fabric will take the dye.

I decided that I wanted more of a stripe pattern on my couch covers. But you can achieve so many different patterns using this dying technique, so, if you've never tried it before, I would suggest doing a bit of research on different folding and binding processes to achieve the different patterns to find one you like. Here are some examples from Melbourne based textile designer Victoria Pemberton. If you are a tie-dying virgin you may like to do some test pieces on a similar fabric to your couch. Once you dye your couch covers it'll be hard to go back!

TWO //

Once you've decided what pattern you'd like to create in your fabric, you will need to source the equipment that you need to achieve this pattern. For me, it was simply thick rubber bands!


Traditionally, Shibori uses Indigo dye, but I just used a navy blue colour from my local fabric shop. You could use any colour to suit your decor – there are plenty of different coloured dyes, easily available.


Wet your fabric then fold, roll, tie or bind your fabric to achieve the pattern you'd like. For my stripes, I simply rolled my couch covers (from the back of the couch cover to the front) and wrapped the rubber bands tightly in five different places, evenly along the width of the couch cover. Keep in mind that, if you use this technique the stripes won't be perfect and the pattern at the back of the couch will be different to what it is at the front, as it will be buried deep inside the roll you create, and so it will be affected by the dye differently.


Mix your dye according to the instructions on the packet. Some dyes can be used in a washing machine, but I prefer to prepare my dye in the laundry sink (or a bucket if you prefer) as I feel like I have more control this way. Make sure you wear rubber gloves if you don't want your hands to match your new couch covers!

SIX //

Add your fabric to the fabric dye (my heart broke a little at this point as I watched my much-loved white couch covers soak up the dye...there would be no going back!) Make sure your fabric is soaked in the dye and stir constantly for 10 to 30 minutes or until desired colour is achieved. You can leave your fabric in the dye for longer than this if you'd like.


Rinse in warm then gradually cooler water until the water runs clear. Remove rubber bands (or other resistance equipment). After this I wash mine in the washing machine with a mild laundry detergent, but you could wash it by hand in warm water if you'd like.


Hang your covers to dry and clean the sink! Once dry, enjoy your hard work!...

I love the interest and vibrance this adds to our home! It's like having a new couch for a fraction of the price! If this style is not for you, consider dyeing your couch covers in one solid colour...perhaps even more than one!

Happy tie-dyeing!

Welcome to the Pretty Palm Tree blog, my space for sharing design, lettering, art, styling, home decor and diy, food and more! MORE ABOUT ME >

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