How to Tie-Dye Paint


Tie-dye is a style of dying cloth that was made popular in the 1960's. It involves taking a piece of clothing and tightly twisting and tying off sections to prevent the dye from reaching all the parts. It creates a multicolored splatter pattern across the cloth. Instead of using traditional clothing dye to create your tie-dye look, you can use spray paint in a faster drying process that will create the same look.

Things You'll Need

  • White T-shirt
  • Rubber bands
  • Old newspapers
  • Plastic gloves
  • 3 cans fabric spray paint
  • Scissors
  • Layout your white T-shirt on a table. Place your hand in the center of the shirt and tightly twist until you have your entire shirt in a twisted cord. Place your rubber bands along the twisted cord in 2 to 3 inch intervals. Make sure you secure your rubber bands as tightly as possible. Your T-shirt is now ready for painting.

  • Pick a well-ventilated area. Outdoors is best for this, but a garage with an open door and window will work well, too. Spread your newspapers over a flat surface to protect the area from the spray paint. Set your T-shirt on the newspaper. Put on your plastic gloves. Set out your three cans of spray paint. Make sure you are using three different colors of paint. Pick which color you would like to apply first.

  • Take your first can of spray paint, shake the can for 30 seconds, and then spray the paint onto your T-shirt. Be creative and add as little or as much of the color as you want. Keep in mind that you do not want to saturate your shirt with the color. Rather, spray in a circular motion at least 3 inches away from your shirt and be sure to leave some white spots to accentuate the tie-dye effect. Repeat this process with your remaining two colors.

  • Let your shirt dry for about 5 minutes. Use your scissors to cut off your rubber bands. Unroll your T-shirt. You now have a spray painted tie-dye design on your shirt.

Tips & Warnings

  • When picking your paint colors, try to choose contrasting colors. If your colors are too similar, they will bleed together and will not create a traditional tie-dye look.
  • Do not wash your tie-dye painted T-shirt with other pieces of clothing. The fabric spray paint may bleed or flake off in the wash. To be safe, wash your tie-dye T-shirt by hand.

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  • Photo Credit tie-dyed shirts image by Jim Parkin from
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