DIY Crackle Dye Dorm Decor

Recipes and Tutorials

I’m doing a nutty thing this fall called “going to college,” which means that much of the summer will be spent preparing. Filling out paperwork, sending documents, working out expenses, aaaaaaaaand dorm shopping. The fun part.

I love interior design, so I’ve been thinking about how I’d arrange and style my dorm forever, looking at blogs and Pinterest for inspiration. It’s kind of overwhelming, to be honest. Dorm rooms are blank slates, so there’s so many possibilities. And in photos with pretty lights hanging, they all look perfect.

Hofstra University, Stuyvesant Hall (submitted by overdressd, thanks!)

Students use Pinterest to find dorm decorating ideas by Brianna Giusti

Image result for tumblr dorms

So to avoid option overload and force myself into a decision, I narrowed my search for the perfect dorm “look” based on a few points: I wanted to avoid clashing terribly with my roommate’s stuff, I wanted something that would be easy to accessorize, and I wanted something I wouldn’t get tired of quickly. I’m hoping to become an RA after my first year, so I’ll be living in a dorm for a while, and I don’t want to buy new things every year.

For me, this meant going with a solid black comforter. The personality, I decided, would come out in my accessories, of which I had lots of choices, since everything goes with black.

Enter: tie dyed pillow cases. Perfect, right? Balance out the sleek black with fun tie dye patterns and colors. But then, I came across something even cooler.

Crackle tie dye.

crackle tie dye

How cool does this look????

I found the tutorial (through Pinterest, of course) on a blog called Latitude Quilts, which follows a fantastically cool group of textile artists from around the world who create a project together each year. See the tutorial here, and take a look at the latest series here.

Here’s how it went down:

The tutorial instructs you to mix 100 g flour (½ cup) (I use whole wheat for lack of anything else) with 150 ml water for a 12” surface. I sextupled this recipe for my 2 pillow cases, using 3 cups of flour and 900ml of water (roughly 3 ¾ cups).

I lay the pillowcases over old newspapers and covered them evenly with the flour/water mixture by pouring it from a bowl and spreading it with a pan scraper and left them to dry.




However, a day and a half later, only the very edges showed any sign of dryness, and I panicked, thinking I’d added way too much water or something.

The problem, though, was that the water had seeped into the newspapers under the pillow cases and keeping them from drying. This also allows colored ink from the newspaper to dtain the fabric. Realizing this, I moved the pillowcases quickly onto the bare floor of the garage, and they were completely dry and crackable in a few hours.


The tutorial doesn’t specify exactly how to crack the floury coating, but I found that unless you want distinct, stripe-like lines (which will occur if you simply fold and crease the entire fabric), the best thing to do is just randomly scrunch and bend the fabric to get an organic-looking pattern.

Now, the paint. The tutorial says to “mix dark acrylic paint with a tiny bit of water.” I did about 4 parts paint to 1 part water. I used Artist’s Loft Mars Black paint and once both pillowcases were finished, the bottle was pretty much empty. Concentrate on rubbing the paint into the cracks (I did this with a piece of painting sponge) rather than covering the entire surface of the flour crust, since you’ll be peeling that off anyway. You’ll save a lot of paint that way.


I left this to dry overnight and then set to taking the flour crust off.


This took forever. I tried several different methods because I was afraid of making the paint run or clogging up the drain with flour, but I won’t bore you with those details.

So here’s what worked:

My house has a huge sink in the room off of the garage, so I filled that with water and plugged the drain. Alternatively, a big bucket filled with water is a good option. Submerge the fabric (I promise the paint won’t run) and the the crust will soften so that you can pull it off without too much effort. It’s still time consuming, but not nearly as bad as trying to pull off the flour dry. Just make sure not to let the flour go down the drain. Not fun.


From here, all you have to do is throw your project in the washer, let it dry (I haven’t tried putting mine in the dryer, but I’d advise letting it air dry), and it’s ready to go.


I’m really happy with the way mine came out. There are a few spots with ink stains from the newspaper or watery-looking paint, but all in all, I think they look great, and I’m excited to put them in my dorm room this fall.

The Takeaway:

Done right, this is an inexpensive, not-too-lengthy, anyone-can-do-it sort of project. The final product is a trendy and mature alternative to tie dye.



  • Take the fabric off of the newspaper as soon as you’ve spread the flour mixture over it. This prevents bleeding ink and ensures that the flour mixture will actually dry.
  • You don’t have to do the back! In fact, I don’t reccomend it because the paint already bleeds through a bit, giving the back a subtler version of the pattern on the front. If you want the same result for front and back, you’ll need to place some cardboard or plastic in the pillowcase while you do each side.
  • Take the flour off in a bucket of water. That way, when you’re done, you can pour out the water and throw away the flour crust.

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