How to Tie-Dye Blankets

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubber bands

  • Urea

  • Fiber reactive dye

  • Thin latex gloves

  • Plastic spray or squirt bottles

  • Sodium carbonate

  • Plastic sheeting

Tie-dyeing became popular during the peace, love and rock 'n' roll era of the late 1960s. The random patterns created by tying, folding and bunching the fabric represented change and freedom back then, but the practice of dying fabric for design and color is ages old. You can tie-dye blankets, shirts, curtains or any type of clothing or home accessory. You can use items that are made from both natural and synthetic fabrics, as well as specially formulated dyes and rubber bands.


Step 1

Select a blanket with the appropriate fabric for tie-dyeing. Blankets made from 80 to 100 percent cellulose fiber such as cotton, rayon, silk and linen accept fabric dye beautifully. If your blanket is a 50-50 blend of polyester and cotton, you'll have better results tie dying with pastels than with vibrant colors.


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Step 2

Prepare your blanket for dyeing by washing and drying it if it is new. If it's clean and been previously washed, there is no need to clean it again.

Step 3

Gather your blanket into small clumps and tie each one with a large rubber band. Create a random pattern for tie-dying over the entire blanket or just in the center. Everywhere the rubber band touches will remain the original color of your blanket. Tying in clumps also makes it easier to dye a large area at one time. Tie your blanket completely while it is dry.


Step 4

Dissolve the 1 tbsp. of urea in 1 cup of water. Make 1 cup of urea for every color that you plan to dye your blanket. Urea allows you to dissolve a larger quantity of dye without diluting the color. It also works to help keep the fabric damp while the dying process takes place. You can find urea where you find your fabric dyes.


Step 5

Dissolve 4 tsp. of dye powder into each cup of urea. Wear a mask as you measure the dye powder so you will not breathe in any of the particles.. Do not leave the jar of dye powder open any longer than necessary. Transfer the dye solutions into your plastic spray or squirt bottles, one bottle for each color.


Step 6

Soak your blanket in a mixture of sodium carbonate and water for at least 15 minutes and no more than one hour prior to dying. Mix 1 cup of sodium carbonate for every gallon of water that you need to soak the blanket. Mix the sodium carbonate and water together first, and then place the blanket into the mixture. Wear gloves during this process.


Step 7

Protect your dyeing area with a sheet of plastic. Lay the soaked blanket on the plastic. The blanket is diminished in size thanks to the tying process, but it may still be too large for a table. The blanket will need to sit for up to 24 hours after you apply the dye, so select an out-of-the-way area of your home.


Step 8

Spray or squirt the dye solution directly onto the blanket. There is no set way to do this--just have fun. The blanket needs to stay wet for at least two hours so the dye reaction will take place. The urea you mixed with the dye and the moisture in the air should be sufficient to accomplish this, but if you live in a dry climate, place another section of plastic on top of the blanket to hold in the moisture.


Step 9

Wash your dyed blanket in the washing machine in cold water, then in two cycles of hot water. Double-rinse the blanket and remove it from the washer. Remove the rubber bands and dry your blanket in the dryer or on a line


Smaller clumps of fabric will result in a busy tie-dyed pattern; larger clumps will result in a broad tie-dyed pattern.


Follow all of the manufacturer’s safety precautions when handling the chemicals necessary for tie-dying.


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