Ways to Tie Dye a Shirt

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Tie dyeing is a fun and easy activity that you can use to add flare to plain white T-shirts. With multiple dyeing techniques and a wide variety of fabric dye colors to choose from, your tie dyeing experiences can be as creative as your imagination dictates. The possibilities are endless.

Spiral

  • The spiral-pattern tie dye is one of the most popular ways to tie dye a shirt. To achieve the spiral tie dye look, lay your white T-shirt out on a flat surface such as a table. Pinch the middle of the shirt and twist it tightly until the shirt becomes flat and disk-like in shape. Stretch three or more thick rubber bands over the disk and spread them out so the divides created by the rubber bands look like wedges of a pie. Saturate the wedges between the rubber band divides with pre-mixed fabric dye. After you have applied the dye, put the shirt in a plastic bag and let it sit for 24 hours before machine washing.

Bunch

  • Bunch tie dyeing is one of the easiest ways to tie dye a T-shirt, and it gives the shirt a "marbled" look. Lay your white T-shirt out on a flat surface such as a table. Gather the shirt together and bunch it into a ball just slightly larger than a grapefruit. Use thick rubber bands to hold the shirt in this ball shape. Saturate the spaces between the rubber bands with one or more colors of pre-mixed fabric dye. Let your shirt rest in a plastic bag for 24 hours before cutting off the rubber bands and machine washing.

Fold

  • Fold tie dyeing is a very simple process that can be used to give your T-shirt horizontal or vertical stripes. Start by laying your white T-shirt out on a flat surface like a table. Grab the bottom, top or side of the shirt and start folding it back and forth like a paper fan, using about two inches of the shirt for each fold. Once you've folded the shirt into a long strip, use thick rubber bands to distinguish where the stripes on your shirt will be. Saturate the fabric between the rubber band divides with pre-mixed fabric dye. Allow your shirt to sit in a plastic bag for 24 hours before cutting off the rubber bands and machine washing.

Twist

  • The process for twist tie dyeing is simple enough that even your littlest tie-dyer will be able to do it. Grab a corner of your white T-shirt and twist it into a long, tight rope. Use a rubber band to band together the two ends of the T-shirt rope. Immerse the T-shirt rope in a pre-mixed fabric dye of any color for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the T-shirt rope from the dye, rinse with cool water until the water runs clear and then remove the rubber band. Use the same process to twist the T-shirt into a T-shirt rope again, this time twisting the T-shirt from a different corner. Immerse the T-shirt rope in a second, coordinating color of fabric dye for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the shirt from the fabric dye, rinse with cool water until the water runs clear and then allow the T-shirt rope to sit in a plastic bag for 24 hours before laundering.

Shadow

  • Shadow dyeing is a simple tie dyeing technique that makes your T-shirt look like the colors on it are gradually fading (or getting darker). Start by soaking your T-shirt in a single color of fabric dye for three minutes. Lift the T-shirt partially out of the dye, so only 2/3 of the T-shirt is immersed in the dye. Let soak for 10 minutes. Lift more of the T-shirt out of the dye, so only 1/3 is left in the dye. Let soak for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the T-shirt from the dye, holding it by the lightest section, and rinse under cool water until the water runs clear.

References

  • Tie Dye!; Virginia Gleser; 1999
  • Photo Credit Creative Commons
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