The Ultimate Guide to Tie-Dyeing

Tie-dyeing has boomed during the recent pandemic. Stores are selling out of dyes, and plain shirts are in low stock and high demand. If you’re into tie-dyeing and want to try it out, here’s the ultimate guide to get you started. There are four main designs that are recommended for beginners, the spiral, the splotched, the bulls-eye, and striped. There are also three ways to dye your fabrics: you can bleach them, you can use coloring dye, or you can naturally dye them using vegetables and fruits. I will be breaking down each method of dyeing and each pattern separately, so find what patterns you want and let’s get crafting! 

Spiral pattern: 

This design will give you a spiral of color over your shirt. To start off, lay your shirt down smoothly and pick where you want your spiral to be centered. Pinch the center of your spiral and start to turn it either clockwise or counterclockwise, and you will see a spiral of fabric start to form. Keep twisting your fabric in the same direction until the entire shirt is included in the spiral. Then, take your elastics, I recommend four, and wrap them around the spiral to hold it in place. This is the basic shape for spiraling. When we discuss the different methods of dyeing, I’ll tell you how to color your spiral. The steps for spiraling are as shown below.

Striped pattern:

This design makes stripes over your fabric. To start, lay your shirt down flat and start to crumple it up into a long roll. Then simply wrap your elastics around your fabric roll. The steps are below.

Bulls-eye pattern:

The bulls-eye design looks like a mix of the spiral and the stripe patterns.You start off by choosing the center of your bulls-eye/circle. Pinch the center of your circle and lift it up, letting the rest of the fabric hang down. Smooth the fabric into a tube and rubber band it off into sections. The directions are shown below.

Crumpled/splotched pattern:

This tie-dye method makes your shirt look as though there are splotches and spots of dye. Start off by taking a corner and crumpling it up in your hands; it doesn’t have to be perfect at all. Take the crumpled section and tie it in place with a rubber band. Continue crumpling your fabric until the entire thing is crumpled and secured with elastics. The instructions are down below.

Bleach Dyeing:

To bleach dye, your fabric must be darker in color so that the bleach can take to the fabric and make a more noticeable pattern. Take your fabric and use the guide above to form it into a pattern. Then, mix one part bleach and one part water in a bottle. Take your wrapped up fabric and set it down. Apply your bleach to the fabric, making sure to coat all of the exposed fabric (make sure to get both sides). Let your fabric sit for a few hours, or until you like the color of the bleached areas. Take out the elastics and rinse well. Enjoy your new style!

Regular Colored Dyeing:

This one is simple. However, you will need either powdered coloring or liquid coloring. The first step is to add water to whatever coloring you are using, follow the instructions on the packaging of your coloring to find the ratio of water to dye because every brand is different. Then, take your already scrunched and elasticized fabric and cover all over the surface. Let it sit for a couple hours and rinse out when you like the color of the fabric. Now you have a classic tie dye shirt!

Natural Dyeing:

Natural dyeing will take a very long time, but it is the best for the environment. You basically take parts of vegetables and use them to dye the fabric. Some of the best vegetables to use are avocado peels and pits, onion skins, and red cabbage. Because the dyes are natural, the fabric also has to be natural in order for the dye to soak in. The best fabric to use is a fabric made of cellulose fibers (which are the fibers found in plants). The first step is to “scour” your fabric. This involves boiling your fabric in water for a few hours. Scouring helps to get rid of ANY dirt on the fabric and cleans it out. Next step is to mordant your fabric.Mordanting your fabric helps set it and allows the dye to stick better to the fabric. To mordant, mix one part soy milk with five parts water and soak your fabric into it for a few hours. Now, to prep the dye, simply take whatever vegetable parts/skins and boil them in water for a few hours until you like the color of the water. Then strain out any of the remaining chunks of vegetable. Next, put your fabric in the dye and let the concoction simmer for a couple hours until you are satisfied with the color your fabrics have taken on. Then wash your fabrics, and you have a successfully naturally dyed piece!

By ~ Alice

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