Instructions for Tie Dyeing


The art of tie dyeing dates back thousands of years. It was adopted by the ancient Romans and popularized in the U.S. during the 1960s. Today, tie dyeing can be a fun activity to do at parties or with kids. With the proper ingredients, dyes and tying methods, you can turn a plain white shirt or other clothing item into colorful and artistic garb.

Things You'll Need

  • Sodium carbonate
  • White cloth
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Rubber bands
  • Cold water procion dyes
  • Plastic squeeze bottles
  • Protective gloves
  • Select the cloth that you want to dye. You can dye many different types of cotton items, especially T-shirts, pants, skirts and tablecloths.

  • Mix 1 cup of sodium carbonate in 1 gallon of water in a 5-gallon bucket.

  • Soak the cloth in the mixture for 15 minutes.

  • Tie the fabric. The simplest tying technique is to hold the cloth at both ends and then tightly twist it into a spiral. Then tie the spiral into a knot, as you would a shoelace, and pull the ends tightly. You can reinforce the spiral by putting rubber bands around the spirals. And you can make as many knots as you like. For additional tying techniques, consult the Pro Chemical website. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to tie your cloth.

  • Pour a cold water procion dye of any color into a plastic squeeze bottle. Fill the bottle with water according to the label instructions. There are many different brands of procion dyes, so follow the instructions careful to get the correct dilution ratio. Fill a separate plastic squeeze bottle for every color of dye that you want to use. You should be able to find procion dyes at most arts and crafts stores.

  • Put on protective gloves so that you don’t get dye on your skin.

  • Squeeze the dye onto the cloth according to your preference for the color. Try dyeing the clothing in small areas to maximize the color in the cloth, rather than dyeing large areas one single color.

  • Wait for the dye to dry on the fabric for one full day before removing any ties or rubber bands from the cloth.

  • Wash the cloth in your washing machine on a cold-water setting. Do not wash with other clothes until you have laundered the dyed cloth several times and it is colorfast.

Tips & Warnings

  • Perform your tie-dyeing project in an open space where you won’t damage your carpet, flooring or furniture. The best option is outside on the lawn or a tarp.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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