To Dye For! Tie Dyeing Tips and Folds

Tie dying is not a hard activity to do. It is a lot of fun and you get some cool shirts to wear. You can do this with lots of kids (all ages) and adults. It is pretty economical. Tye Dyeing is pretty instantaneous process. It teaches patterns,colors,color mixing,fine and gross motor skills.

I think the hardest part for any newbie to tie dying is the folds to get the cool designs. They are not real hard but It is nice for someone to show you.

Another question is dyes. Which kind to use? Do I use a tie dye kit? Do I use professional dyes? Do I use Rit dyes?

So here is a little demo and tutorial for tie dyeing.

professional dyes
professional dyes
"natural" professional dyes
"natural" professional dyes
Rit dye
Rit dye
Tubs with shirts
Tubs with shirts

First let us talk about supplies and dyes.

You can use a kit that has rubber bands and dyes in the bottles. The bottles are nice because they offer control of the dye application. The dyes are really bright and vibrant.There are no buckets of dye to deal with. Now the cons. Who are they kidding when the box says for up to 8 shirts?! Maybe if you are doing doll clothes. You have to saturate the shirt with the dye to get a good pattern of color,otherwise you will a lot of white area.

Next you can buy professional dyes. These color are vibrant and rich. You can dye a lot of shirts. But they can be costly.You can also buy "natural" dyes made from organic material. I have not used any of these dyes but I imagine the color maybe a littled muted.

Then there is the stand by Rit dye. It is cheap,even if you buy the pre made kind. If you are wanting to have a tie dye party, that is inexpensive,Rit is the way to go and have everyone bring their own shirts.

Another element you will need is rubber bands. You will want the big all purpose bands. Some people like string. String gives a tighter tie, which can give more white but the risk of cutting the shirt is high. Ask me how I know.

Other supplies that are handy to have are:

  • Gloves
  • Smocks,aprons or old clothes
  • Glade wrap ( it can be used to wrap the shirts in for up to eight hours to help deepen the dye color)
  • Small tubs (if you are dying in large quantities)
  • Small bottles with tips like color applicator bottles (these are for more precise control)
  • Spray bottles: these are fun way to do the dye application
  • Something to dye: Shirts are the most common but anything that can be dyes. For best results the fabric should be cotton.



I think for any newbie tie dyer the main question is,how do you get those pattern? How do you fold the shirt to do it? Here are a few folds and finished shirts. Remember no two shirts are the same, these are just some general guidelines. You can create your own folds to experiment with the outcome.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fan fold side viewFan fold top viewfan fold with sleeves in side viewfan fold with rubber bandsDyed shirt wrapped in plastic wrap
Fan fold side view
Fan fold side view
Fan fold top view
Fan fold top view
fan fold with sleeves in side view
fan fold with sleeves in side view
fan fold with rubber bands
fan fold with rubber bands
Dyed shirt wrapped in plastic wrap
Dyed shirt wrapped in plastic wrap
Fan fold
Fan fold
Fan fold with "V" shape
Fan fold with "V" shape

Here is a fold that gives you some vertical lines that goes up. If you tie the arms inward,you often get a funky "V" shape.

  • Lay your t shirt out.
  • Fold your shirt like a fan. (it does not matter if you stop at top or bottom) Now a key here for any of the folds is the tighter the fold,the more white you will have.
  • Fold arm sleeves inward or not.
  • Tie shirt with rubber bands.
  • Dunk,pour or spray dye on shirt so that is saturated. You want to make sure the dye is really in those fibers.If you are dunking the shirts,try to leave the shirt in the dye for at least 2 minutes or more to get a richer color.
  • You have a couple of options at this point; one is wrapping the shirt in plastic wrap for eight hours. This option gives the dye more time to set and keeps some of the mess at bay. It is also a good option when you have poured or sprayed the dye on. The secound option is to remove the ties and hang the shirt to dry.
  • You can set the dye right after you dye the shirt or after it dries. You put the shirt in cold water (Now you can add a cup of salt for every gallon of cold water. This method is often suggested for professional dyes.),then you soak at least for 30 minutes. Some of the dye will release back into the water but it really doesn't effect the shirt design too much.

On the right is a visual example of the fan fold with the finished shirt.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bulls eye foldBulls eyes foldCompleted bulls eye fold
Bulls eye fold
Bulls eye fold
Bulls eyes fold
Bulls eyes fold
Completed bulls eye fold
Completed bulls eye fold
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bulls eye shirtBulls eye shirt
Bulls eye shirt
Bulls eye shirt
Bulls eye shirt
Bulls eye shirt

Next fold is called a bulls eye fold because the dye graduates down into a single "circle" of color.

  • Take the shirt, start in the middle and pull the shirt into like a cone (see pictures on right)
  • Then add rubber bands down to the end of the shirt. you can use as many or as little as you want. The distance between the bands is up to you as well.
  • Add dye in the method you choose.Note this a great way to teach about color patterns.

The finished example is to the middle right.

Another cousin of this fold is call a sun burst fold. It is basically the same fold but done smaller. You place this fold in several different spots on the shirt.

On the bottom right is an example of this fold as well as two samples of finished shirts.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sun burst foldsun burst foldsunburstcool example of sun burst found at another site
Sun burst fold
Sun burst fold
sun burst fold
sun burst fold
sunburst
sunburst
cool example of sun burst found at another site
cool example of sun burst found at another site
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Spiral foldSpiral FoldSpiral Fold completeSpiral Fold with Rubber BandsTriple Spiral Fold
Spiral fold
Spiral fold
Spiral Fold
Spiral Fold
Spiral Fold complete
Spiral Fold complete
Spiral Fold with Rubber Bands
Spiral Fold with Rubber Bands
Triple Spiral Fold
Triple Spiral Fold

Here is the  most popular fold, Spiral.

This one looks tricky but it is not that bad.

  • Lay out your shirt.
  • Start in the middle of the shirt and twist the fabric around the center.
  • You will have something that looks a cinnamon bun.
  • Put rubber bands to hold the shape.
  • Add fabric dye.

You by no means have to start at the middle or limit yourself to one spiral. You can do several smaller spirals. There is an example to the right of this,as well as some finished examples.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
SpiralSpiral
Spiral
Spiral
Spiral
Spiral
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scrunch methodScrunch method
Scrunch method
Scrunch method
Scrunch method
Scrunch method

This fold or method I like to call the scrunch.it is interesting fold because it is completely random and very simple to do.

  • You take the shirt and scrunch into a ball.
  • Next you add rubber bands to hold shape of the shirt.
  • Then you add dye.

Ta Da! Finished!

I hope this inspires you to have a groovy tie dye party! This is a simple,inexpensive, fun warm weather activity for all ages!

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Comments 7 comments

Blair Rockefeller profile image

Blair Rockefeller 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I love it This is great. Not sure if I can do it but it is great. I am an old hippie and I've written a song called Jesus Freak Revival and I need a Tie Dye shirt for when I sing it.


thehemu profile image

thehemu 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

this is really great tut.


arty mom profile image

arty mom 5 years ago from Tricities TN Author

Thanks!


Cross stitch 5 years ago

thanks for the tips. I tried to die aida once (from white to black) and didn't do a good job. But will try again.


zulueta19 profile image

zulueta19 5 years ago from Seattle

Great works. Super love it...


diamond 3 years ago

hay this is the super things i have ever seen before


fairy 3 years ago

so niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice

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