How to dye chair cushions using iDye

idye silver gray

Will dying my chair cushions leave me gloating with success or shame-faced with failure? Read on to learn more how about the dye chair cushions using iDye.

I don’t even want to tell you how many hours I spent thinking about what kind of chair to get for the nursery.  Rockers, gliders, new, used, ugly, expensive? I was so stymied by indecision that I gave up with Beatrice and just used a 10-year-old Poang chair that my mom and I had slip-covered. The Poang chair worked just fine (you could fall asleep it in, it had an ottoman, it was easy to wash the cover) but after 18 months I was darn tired of sitting in it because it’s not very comfortable anymore. As loathe as I was to resume the search, I was even more reluctant to have springs in my back for another year.

Poang chair in nursery

The old Poang chair in Bee’s nursery.

I was at lunch a few months ago with a friend (Kristen of crafting fame — she’s going to love that I keep linking to this photo) and I found myself blathering on about my stupid chair dilemma. I was listening to myself talk and thinking “Shut up! Shut up! This is so boring!” But when I stopped talking the universe magic happened, because Kristen said, “I have a glider you could use.”

Kristen’s chair is just what my indecisive heart was looking for: a solid wood glider with a small footprint, and since she was generous enough to let me use it free, there was no risk or concern about how I’d justify the investment or use the chair down the line. (But we’ve kind of fallen in love with the chair, so I don’t foresee having trouble keeping it around).

The glider’s cushions were covered in a light blue fabric — very neutral and easy going, and perfectly acceptable, although not a great match for the blue-green chevron rug I had my eye on. I found myself toying with the idea of making new covers or having them made in a fabric that I loved. Then I was wandering around Joann’s one day and stumbled across the fabric dye, and got that crafter’s gleam in my eye. “What if I dyed the cushions gray?” I thought. “What’s the worst that could happen — it ends up blue/gray?”

I went home and did some internet research on brands (Rit vs. iDye vs. Tulip) and iDye seemed like the winner, especially in the gray category. Then I read reviews of people dying chair cushions and reviews of the various iDye gray shades. There were indeed stories of dying that had gone more wrong than blue-gray (for example, entirely different colors, splotches, uneven colors, etc). And I wasn’t 100% sure the fabric was 100% cotton (iDye sells a separate dye for use on polyester blends). But this post in particular made me feel confident, and prompted me to try the iDye in Silver Gray. iDye also sells a dye remover that you can use as long as you can fit the item in a pot and boil it on your stove, so having that knowledge spurred me on.

I put a teapot on the stove and got out two glass bowls and filled them with hot water (to temper them so when I added the boiling water they wouldn’t break on me). When the kettle whistled I drained the bowls, added the soluble dye packet to one and a cup of salt to the other, and then added the required amount of hot water to each. I stirred them up until the salt dissolved (which took awhile).

I gripped each bowl with a hot pad and grimly set down my carpeted steps to the washing machine (dumb! I should have mixed up the dye right next to the washer) and carefully poured each bowl into my front-loading washing machine. I then added my pre-wetted cushions (still damp because I’d ran them through the wash first to make sure they were totally clean, per iDye instructions) and set my washer for the longest cycle it had (whitest whites, 84 minutes).

And it worked! Perfectly!

Chair dyed gray with idye

My favorite thing about this photo? The play food chicken wing in the corner.

The chair is lined with a piece of fabric stapled to the frame and I didn’t feel confident I could remove and reattach it intact, so I left it. It shows the contrast between the original blue and dyed gray.

Chair cushions dyed with idye

To make sure my washer was 100% clean I ran an old towel along the gaskets and then ran a cleaning cycle followed by a test cycle using some old white towels.

The only bad part about this experiment is that it has me heady with success and wanton with fabric-dying abandon. What can I dye next?

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  1. Julie Hanson says:

    Wow. I was going to ask you how it went. It looks fantastic. Hope you didn’t spill any on your basement carpet. It is a perfect soothing gray color. I bet it will make you smile a bit every time you sit in it.

  2. WOW, I am impressed. I would have never tried that.

  3. Awesome!! Did u dye the entire cushion including the foam?
    Did u machine dry them? I really want to do this too vs ripping the cushions apart and making new covers… Any help would be awesome!

    • My cushion covers had zippers, so I removed the covers from the foam before dying. If yours don’t have zippers you could carefully cut open the side that faces the back and remove the foam and then slip-stitch it shut afterward. And I line dried them — it made me nervous because as they dried they looked splotchy but then once they were completely dry I could see the color was even. Good luck!

  4. I was so excited to dye my chair that looks exactly as this one. I took the fabric to Jo-Ann’s Fabric. I was warned it would not work because my fabric is 100% polyester. I pointed out that iDye has a formula for poly. But alas she was correct. After an hour of boiling water (I added to my machine) agitating the cushions, they were as blue as ever! Only the lining was the beautiful brown I had hoped for.

    • Oh darn! I’m glad your cushions weren’t ruined but how disappointing that it didn’t work! It’s good to know that polyester fabrics might not work, even using iDye’s polyester formula. Thanks for letting us know!


  1. […] NOTE: By the way, the glider rocking chair I covered has a fabulous new life now, dyed a lovely gray in a new baby’s room. Check out this classier nursery at borealisblog: […]