How to Tie Dye: Beginners Guide to Tie Dye Patterns

How to tie the dye

It’s one of the trendiest clothes of the season, and it’s easy to see why. This love inspired free outfit is easy to pair with almost any outfit and is sure to brighten up a room. What’s better is that you can make them yourself. Using just a few items and a free afternoon, you can easily recreate some of the hottest looks from the runway to your backyard. If you’re ready to take on the world, here’s how you can dye like an expert.

Tie Dye Essential Products

Creating a tie-dye garment is an easy and fun way to spend the day. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

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Decide on the design

The possibilities behind this trend are endless. With so many different designs to choose from, you can create new tie dye pieces and always make them unique. Choose from a traditional spiral or try your hand at a heart shape, use the chevron technique or create a pattern with icing. The beauty behind this stunning project is that you can create something truly one of a kind, just like you.

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Prepare the space

Tie-dye clothes are super fun to make, but they’re also really messy. When setting up, it is essential to have a towel or sheet to protect the surface you are working on. If you are going to create an ice cream style, you will also need a large plastic container and a dish drainer. Next, take the t-shirt or garment you want to design, then prepare all the tools listed.

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Tie Dye Patterns

Bullseye Spiral Tie Dye

The spiral tie-dye pattern is one of the most traditional styles, and it’s simple to replicate. To start, you will need to prepare a pre-soaked white t-shirt, color dye and rubber bands.

  1. Lay the T-shirt flat with both arms laid out evenly. Using the armpits, find the center of the fabric and pinch. Using the pinched center of the t-shirt, begin to seat the fabric, pinch, twist and taper it, so it’s a tight circle. Remember that the closer together the folds are, the less ink and dye will penetrate the material.
  2. Once you’ve mastered the feathering technique, keep the looped fabric flat and slide rubber bands over the top to hold its shape. Be sure to place three or four in contrasting positions to create corners that look like slices of pizza.
  3. Take the shade you prefer to use first and color the entire corner with the ink. Start by drawing around the edges of the shape and fill in the rest. Continue with the other sections until it is completely covered in the colors of your choice. Then flip the shirt over and repeat the same process.
  4. Wait 24 hours for the ink to dry before removing the rubber bands and unfolding the fabric. When the dye is no longer wet, wash the T-shirt, and you’re done! You are ready to go.

Stripe Dye

A fun and fresh way to dye a shirt is to use a striped pattern. You can opt for shades like baby blue, pink or red – it’s a great addition to any wardrobe. For this you will need a t-shirt, gloves, a pot, a spoon or spatula, rubber bands and ink. Before you begin, prepare a dye bath with the shade of your choice. To do this, mix the color with water and activator in a jar.

  1. Take the T-shirt and soak it in water. Wring it out so that there is no more moisture left and gather the upper part of the fabric. Place a rubber band around it a few times – this will ensure a set of bold white stripes.
  2. Perform the same steps on the body of the T-shirt. Try to make sure that each of the rubber bands is located evenly on the fabric. You can use different sizes if you prefer varied designs.
  3. Take the garment and immerse it in the dye bath you prepared earlier. Using a spatula or spoon, press down on the t-shirt to evenly distribute the color into the fabric.
  4. Let the T-shirt sit in the dye for an hour. Once the soak is complete, you can remove it and wash off the excess color.

Tye-Dye Heart

If you’ve always wanted to wear your heart on your sleeve, here’s your perfect chance. This cute and flirty tie-dye pattern is sure to turn heads, and it’s a great choice for casual attire. For this project you will need a pre-soaked t-shirt, colored ink, rubber bands and gloves.

  1. Lay the T-shirt out on your surface and fold it nicely in the middle, from sleeve to sleeve. Take a washable marker and trace half of the heart shape in the center of the fabric.
  2. Pinch the fabric at the bottom of the marked heart and start folding the side of the shape. Take your time going around the line, making sure to move the t-shirt with you as you go. Take your elastic and secure it in the top half of the fabric.
  3. If you want to add more stripes to your design, add some extra elastic to the bottom half of the t-shirt. Take your dye and start filling in the heart. Be careful when coloring this, as you’ll want to stay within the lines to maintain its shape. You can then continue applying the ink to the rest of the fabric. Repeat on the other side.
  4. When you are done dyeing, carefully place the T-shirt in a plastic bag. Make sure the colors are not touching each other or they may start to bleed. Close the bag and wrap the fabric slowly, pushing out any excess air from the inside. Wait about eight hours, then rinse off in a tub.

Tye-Dye Ice Cream

The Ice Tie Dye design is a bold style to wear – it’s sleek, stylish and full of color. Unlike traditional methods, this mesmerizing T-shirt uses ice cubes to formulate the designs, so you’ll want to make this one outdoors. To get started, make sure you have a large container, an elevated dish drying rack, a pre-soaked t-shirt, dye, and ice cubes.

  1. Place the dish drying rack in the large container and place the pre-soaked T-shirts on top of the platform. Crumple them up so they look lumpy and messy.
  2. Using a cup, pour the ice cubes over the top of the t-shirts, covering them sporadically.
  3. Now it’s time to add the coloring. Pour the shades you’d like the T-shirt to be on the ice, making sure there’s enough color to soak into the fabric. You can use different designs and patterns on the material – have a little fun with it! Just make sure you’re wearing gloves or you’ll stain your hands.
  4. Let the ice cubes sit on the t-shirt until they have completely melted – you can leave it overnight or during the day. This will create the perfect blend of color and clean fabric, leaving behind a funky pattern. It’s best to keep the bottom of the rack fully covered with a towel, sheet, or container, as the dye and water will leak everywhere.
  5. Rinse excess dye from each part of the fabric – this will prevent staining your skin before wearing. Let the t-shirt air dry for a few hours and you’re ready to show off your new garment.

Chevron Tye-Dye

The Chevron or Shibori design is one of the most elaborate and stylish ways to create a fun t-shirt. The multiple folding process creates a zigzag pattern, which you can easily style with any outfit. To create this you will need a ruler, pre-soaked white t-shirt, string, washable marker and dye.

  1. Lay your T-shirt on a flat surface, then fold it in half twice. Using a ruler and a washable marker, draw diagonal lines on the fabric. Make sure it’s even as you go down.
  2. Grab the top of the shirt and pinch the corner where the marker begins. Slowly gather the fabric along the line until you have reached the bottom. Using a string or rubber band, tie the collected piece until it is secure.
  3. Repeat the process on each line drawn on the t-shirt until you have reached the end of the fabric. Feel free to add a few more designs in the gaps between the rubber bands – for a unique touch.
  4. Begin dipping each section of the fabric in the dye. You can use a huge range of colors, or just one or two, it’s up to you. Repeat the process until it is completely drenched in the desired shades.
  5. Allow the colors to soak for a few hours, then rinse the excess dye from the fabric. Once washed, you can remove the bands and unfold the t-shirt. Watch the diagonal lines turn into delicious zig-zags!


What kind of paint do you use to dye a shirt?

What’s great about tie-dye is that there are so many ways to do it. In addition to paint and fabric dye, you can also use food coloring. To do this, you will need to mix the dye with water and add a few drops to the mixture. Fill a different bottle for each shade you intend to use. You should use polyester fabrics instead of plant-based ones as they will hold the color better.

What can I use instead of bleach for tie-dye?

The appeal of tie-dying is that many people use their household items to complete the process; that means you don’t need bleach. As an alternative, consider using white vinegar, which will help the color bind. Start by mixing the vinegar with water and soaking your clothes in it for several hours to prepare them for the dyeing process.

Do you mix tie-dye with hot or cold water?

It is advisable to use hot water for the final rinse of your tie-dye. Hot water can also help speed up the process and allow the dye to be absorbed into the fabric faster. That said, each fabric has a different maximum temperature that must be taken into account; for example, natural fibers like cotton, linen and silk should use water between 60 and 71°C. There are different methods you can try to color your clothes, including icing tie-dye or using cold water to keep the colors from bleeding.

Can you dye things that aren’t white?

You can dye things that aren’t white, but then you’ll use bleach to create the same effect on a dark garment. You can also choose lighter colored items and use dark dyes, such as deep blues and reds.


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