To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II)

Hi again errybody! I’m back today to share part II of our DIY backdrop. A couple weeks ago, I told y’all about how Evan and I decided to create a backdrop for our wedding. It was going to be used for the ceremony AND our DIY photobooth, but the ceremony area ended up having the prettiest flowers on the big day so we decided to keep it for the photobooth only- and we’re so glad we did! The photobooth was a HUGE hit!!

In the last post I shared how we (and by “we” I mean Evan. I was just the assistant) made the wooden frame for our backdrop. Today I’m going to take you through my contribution to this project- the actual fabric itself.

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I’d seen TONS of pretty fabric and ribbon backdrops on Pinterest- but ribbon would get real expensive real fast, so that option was nixed pretty early on. I liked the idea of fabric strips, but I wanted to do a really soft, subtle gradient and I wasn’t sure I would find all the colors I needed to do that. So I decided to make the colors myself aka become a fabric dye mixologist aka end up with really weird looking perma-stained hands.

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So I bought some white muslin fabric since it was super cheap and easy to dye. We guessed what length we would want it to be and just bought just enough for that. When we got home, we laid it out and got to tearing! If you have a cat, they can really help with this part.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) -

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) -

Unfortunately, because we were Mochi-wrangling, we didn’t get a pic of the tearing process. But it’s super simple: just make little snips with scissors along the edge and start ripping. We made our snips 2-3 inches apart so that our strips would be 2-3 inches wide. With other fabrics you might need to cut down the whole length of the strip, but with muslin it’s way easier to rip away. Plus I liked the natural looking ripped edges more than I would have liked a sharp cut edge anyway. We left a few pieces in bigger sections so I could test out if it was easier to rip and then dye, or dye and then rip.

Speaking of dye, I bought a few different colors of Rit dye (Petal, Violet, and Aquamarine) and got everything ready to go!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) -

To use the dye, just follow the instructions on the bottle. You get warm water and put a weeeee little bit of dye in and mix it about. The water doesn’t have to be boiling or anything, just warm. Though it even works with cold water if you leave it in there long enough.

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Please excuse the nail polish haha. Anyway, I left the fabric in the dye for a little while and impatiently checked and checked until I decided to pull it out to prevent it from getting over-saturated. Since I was going for pastels, I wanted the color to be very faint. Unfortunately, even at it’s faintest it was still… too much.

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See that light pink in the middle of the pile that looks like a washed out highlighter? That’s how it turned out, and it was a little too glowy for me. So I decided I’d try mixing my colors to (hopefully) tone it down. Spoiler: when I used the mixed dye to color the fabric, it turned out like the darker pink part of the pile in the photo above. Which had better, warmer undertones, but was too dark to be pastel. Dang.

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Then I discovered that Rit actually has a color mixing guide on their website! Totally should have checked that out beforehand! Turned out I needed to get some tan dye to warm up and subdue the brightness of my colors.

I started out following the rules, measuring teaspoons of dyes and cups of water, but by the end I was winging it. The dye was really forgiving, and because I wanted all my strips to vary, it was ok if the color was a little different each time. Also, if you dye the fabric one color and don’t quite like it, you can dye it again in another color to get sort of a wash of that second color onto the first. For example, many times my pink mixes were still too pink or my blues were still too blue, so I’d make a batch of tan dye and leave the pinks and blues in there for a while to soak up the tan. Hope all this makes sense and isn’t too confusing. It’s not that hard once you start getting your hands dirty, I promise :)

I found that I liked tearing the fabric into strips first and then dying it, but you may like doing it the other way around. After I pulled out each strip from the dye and rung it out, I let it air dry hanging in the shower. You can see that it dries pretty wrinkly, but I thought that actually gave it a nice shabby chic effect.

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Once it was dry, I set up a couple curtain rods so I could see how it would look once it was more put together. As I mentioned in the last post, we decided to use two curtain rods for the backdrop: one in front for the fabric, and one behind to hang sheer white curtains from (to act as sort of a backdrop for my backdrop, if you will).

Here’s how it looked when I hung it all up!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - And here’s how it looked about 30 seconds later.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) -

To attach the fabric to the curtain rod, I just folded it over and pinned it to itself with a safety pin. I kept going, adding more and more neutral pinkish-tan pieces to pull everything together. Once we finished the wooden backdrop frame, I was super excited to actually put it all together!

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And then… womp womp. Somehow in my excitement about dying, I totally got the wrong length for my fabric. It was like our backdrop was wearing high waters. Luckily, I had bought the last of a bolt of fabric and was cutting it as I went, so I still had a little bit that was uncut.

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But it definitely wasn’t enough to match the amount of too-short strands. It ended up looking like just a handful of full length pieces peeking out from underneath the short ones. But I didn’t want to toss all my beautifully dyed, vertically challenged fabric and I didn’t want to buy a buttload more fabric either. So I got sneaky.

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Yep, I took a few of the short strips and cut them up into even smaller bits that were just long enough to bridge the gap from the short strips to the floor. I tried to match up colors and widths on some so it would look like a continuous strand. On others, I’d purposefully pin (for example) a skinny blue piece behind a wide pink piece and just look at it and pretend that a full length blue piece was hiding behind the big pink one. Which is totally what it looked like!

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After pinning everything in place, I just hand stitched it together. Unless you were looking at it as closely as this photo was, the seams were pretty much invisible!

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Excited about my fabric ninja skills, I made my way across the bottom and filled in the gap to the floor.

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And finally… ta-da!!!!

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To transport the fabric to the wedding, I split the curtain rod in half and rolled up each side. Then I put them both in a trashbag together to keep the rolls of fabric in place.

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And there you have it! It was super easy to transport, reassemble, and disassemble at the end of the night. Plus… it looked gorgeous!!!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) -

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) -

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16 Responses to To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II)

  1. Uncle rat August 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    Very fascinating. !!!!

    • Katelyn Shibley August 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Now you know how it was done!

  2. Maria August 27, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Love it!!

    • Katelyn Shibley August 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Thank you! ^_^

  3. Lisa September 1, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Y’all are DIY rock stars!!!
    Happy Birthday, Katelyn!

    • Katelyn Shibley September 4, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

      Haha thank you and thank you! ^_^

      • Lisa C September 4, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

        You’re welcome! :)

  4. Kathryn Bradley September 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    this was AWESOME and VERY informative! I wish I could just buy it from you lol…my wedding is in October and although I would like to do something like this, I don’t think I have the time! Thanks though :)

    • Katelyn Shibley September 4, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Maybe you can come up with a quicker alternative! Like using already colored fabric or ribbon (dying fabric was the most time consuming part). Good luck and congrats on the upcoming wedding!!

  5. jvickers7 February 9, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    How did you make the lifesize cutouts?!

    • Katelyn Sheline February 10, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

      My dad ordered them for us! I don’t know the company he used but it’s definitely something you can order online :)

  6. Jenn March 29, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    How much fabric did you end up using? Any recommendations on how much to buy, how long strips should be? I’m assuming the curtains are 84” length?

    Thank you!

    • Katelyn Sheline March 29, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

      Hi Jenn! It’s hard to say how much I ended up using because I went back to the store maybe 6 times. Lets just say I needed WAY more than expected. I’m not sure about the curtain length because they are not the length we bought them at, we hemmed them to be a little shorter at our old apartment. I’d say just take a photo of yourself or someone else in front of a blank wall from the same distance away your camera will be, eyeball what height you need the backdrop to be to fill the screen, and measure up to the wall at that point. Hope this helps!

  7. Monica June 1, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    So our backdrop definitely isn’t as good as yours but I loved it just the same! Thanks for the inspiration =)

    • Katelyn Sheline June 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

      It looks awesome!! Love the colors you chose, that little pop of yellow is perfect ^_^


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