How to Tie-Dye Different Designs


Tie-dye is a fabric conditioning method used to create bold and dramatic designs. The process involves tying the fabric to be dyed into restricted shapes, which directs and focuses the dyes exactly as you want. The options for tie-dyeing are as unlimited as your imagination, but if you are new the art, use some basic tying patterns to get started. Once you master the following three patterns, broaden your horizons by adjusting the placement, setting and orientation of your ties.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Skinny rubber bands


  • Lay the fabric flat in front of you and roll it into a long, even roll. The direction you roll the fabric in will change the direction of the stripes; roll from the bottom up to make vertical stripes and from right to left if you want horizontal stripes.

  • Stretch open a rubber band and slide it around the rolled fabric. Move the rubber band so it is centered along the middle of the tube. If the rubber band is loose on the fabric, wrap it twice around the fabric to create a more distinct stripe line.

  • Place more rubber bands around the fabric in the same way until you have as many stripes as you want. If you want the stripes to be even and consistent, space the rubber bands evenly apart. For more spontaneous and sporadic stripes, position the bands at random intervals along the fabric tube.


  • Spread out the fabric on a smooth surface and find the point where you want the center of the swirl to be. Mark the point with a light dot so you will be able to find it later.

  • Hold a fork upside down on top of the dot on the fabric, with the tines of the fork resting on the intended center point. If you have more than one layer of fabric, such as with a shirt, hold the fork firmly enough to grip each of the layers.

  • Turn the fork to gently gather the fabric into a spiral circle; use the same motion you would use to gather spaghetti onto a fork to work the fabric around the tines. Keep turning the fork until the entire piece of fabric is gathered around the fork.

  • Smooth the loose ends of the fabric around the spiraled circle using your hand, and then carefully pull the fork out. Hold the spiral together with one hand while you remove the fork to keep the shape from coming out.

  • Stretch a rubber band across the middle of the spiral so the circle is divided into two semicircles. Keep placing rubber bands around the fabric in a star pattern until the shape is held firmly. To ensure you keep the swirl even, keep the bands spaced evenly so it resembles a sliced pie.


  • Spread out the fabric so it is flat and pick a spot to place a circle. If you want to make the circles evenly placed, use a ruler and mark out each of the circle locations before starting to tie.

  • Slide a marble under the fabric at the location for the first circle. Pick up the marble through the fabric from the top so the marble becomes enveloped in fabric.

  • Secure the marble in its fabric wrapping by twisting a rubber band around the fabric, right under the marble. Repeat with all of the remaining locations for circles until they are all filled with marbles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice different ties with various weights of fabric until you find the best tie for each of your dying projects.
  • Do not work with tie-dyes with your bare hands, as the color will stain your skin for weeks.

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