How to Make Different Tie Dye Effects


You can use different tie dye effects to create fun, easy, one-of-a-kind designs. Whether you want to make a special T-shirt or create your own set of matching curtains and bedding, tie dye is the way to go. Armed with a little information about different tie die effects and how to achieve them, your imagination is your only limitation.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber Gloves
  • Old Newspaper
  • Fabric Dyes
  • Fabric to be Dyed
  • Rubber Bands
  • Fork
  • Squeeze Bottle

Creating Blotches with Tie Dye

  • Choose three dye colors you want to use and get the dye all set up in your work area. Blotches are probably the easiest of the tie dye effects, so this is a good first project if you are new to tie dying. Be sure you have mixed the dye according to the manufacturer's instructions and covered your workspace with newspaper to protect it.

  • Bunch up the area of the fabric you want to tie dye. You can secure this bunch of fabric by holding it with your hand or with a rubber band.

  • Add your main dye color to a large section of this bunched-up fabric, making sure to leave some area uncovered for the other dye colors. Fabric can be dipped directly in the dye or the dye can be applied with a squeeze bottle or sponge.

  • Switch to the other dye colors, adding them randomly to the bunched up fabric.

  • Add more of the original dye color to any areas of fabric that remain uncovered.

  • Follow the drying instructions from the manufacturer. Some dyes require projects to set for 24 hours before rinsing, while others require immediate rinse.

Creating Spirals with Tie Dye

  • Choose four different dye colors for this project and prepare your work area as before. For this project, you will need to be able to control where the dye is placed. This can be accomplished by placing individual dye colors in squeeze bottles.

  • Lay the fabric to be tie dyed flat on the workspace or floor. Place a fork in the center of the fabric and begin twisting. The fabric will begin to form a swirl. Continue twisting until the fabric has completely swirled around itself.

  • Secure the spiral with rubber bands. Place one rubber band from one side of the disc shape to the other. Continue this until the fabric is bound tight. The rubber bands need to fit securely without being too tight, as this will cause distortion of the final spiral.

  • Divide the fabric into four sections as you would when cutting a pie in fourths. Each section will be dyed with a different dye color.

  • Apply the dye one color at a time, starting from the center point and working out. Continue with each color until all four dye colors have been applied. Flip the fabric over and apply to each section again. It may be necessary to apply the dye a couple of times to ensure saturation.

  • Follow the drying instructions from the manufacturer. Some dyes require projects to set for 24 hours before rinsing, while others require immediate rinse.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fabrics that are at least 60 percent cotton work the best for tie dye.
  • For best results, wash or pre-treat fabrics to avoid shrinking after dying.
  • Wash tie dyed projects in cold water to help keep from fading.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for mixing dyes.
  • Always wear rubber gloves to protect hands from hot water and dyes.
  • Protect surroundings with newspaper a
  • Fabric that is 100 percent polyester will not dye.
  • Due to bleeding, wash tie dyed items separately or with like items.

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  • Photo Credit Illustration by Terri Rawls
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