Last week I posted pictures from the Island-themed dinner and I got a few questions about the backdrop, mainly “how did you do that?” Here are the details:


  • 100% cotton fabric, washed; I used 7 yards, 90″ wide, white muslin
  • Fabric dye
  • Disposable gloves to protect your hands
  • Multiple buckets, two for each color: one for the dye and one for the cold water rinse; for simplicity’s sake, I’m saying “buckets” but you could use any sort of container or basin
  • Long-handled spoons or chopsticks to mix the dye and move the fabric around in the dye and rinse
  • Dowels, poles, or curtain rods for hanging; I used three 6′ bamboo poles
  • If inside, protect your floor by laying down newspaper, a tarp or dropcloth.


  1. Rip the fabric into 6″-8″ wide strips, the width of the material (raw edge to raw edge). As a FYI: they won’t be perfectly straight strips. If you wish to have straight edges, it would be best to cut them.
  2. Prep the dye per instructions. If you’re attempting an ombre effect, start with a spoonful of dye in the first bucket and gradually add more dye to each bucket.
  3. Using the spoons or chopsticks, submerge the fabric in the dye. Give the fabric a couple good swirls and pokes to ensure it takes to the color. I had six strips per color, and they were loosely folded/scrunched so some areas would be darker on the same strip, creating texture.
  4. Squeeze out the excess dye (over the dye bucket) before submerging the strip in the cold water, giving it a few good swirls and pokes. I let the dye do its magic about 10 minutes before I started pulling out the first group of strips. I kept them loosely folded/scrunched in the cold water rinse.
  5. Squeeze out the excess water and hang to dry. I didn’t want to worry about the dye rubbing off on clothing or dye dripping if it got wet so I washed each set in cold water (quick wash setting) and dried for 15 minutes. When I pulled the strips out of the dryer, I loosely “straightened” them, allowing the texture (aka wrinkles) to be present while they finished drying on a rack.
  6. With a quick slip-knot, tie the strips on the pole(s). The knot will make it easy to slide them into place and you can tighten it once you’re done. Depending how many you have or the effect you are trying to create, you can tie them as close or far apart as you wish. If you’re worried about the strips blowing around, stitch a heavy washer at the bottom for a little weight.

Decor Idea: As a creative option for your next backyard soirée or for everyday use, these would make a great summer “door” instead of having to constantly open and shut a screen door. Just tie the strips on the pole densely to help keep the bugs out. You could also use this idea as creative take on curtains or a room divider in a play room, bedroom or office space.

If you end up doing this, let me know how it turns out! Send a picture of your final product and how you displayed it – would love to see this backdrop in action!


{images: our own}