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How To Tie Dye

Get the basics on how to tie dye like a pro with these tips for tie-dye success on almost any fabric item!

We have a lot of different tie-dye techniques on our site that show you how to tie dye like a pro, but here are some tie-dye basics to help set you up for success! Whether you are wondering how to tie dye a T-shirt, how to dye socks or pretty much anything else, here’s what you need to know.

Picture of What you’ll need: Basic supplies

What you’ll need: Basic supplies

Here's an easy checklist to follow when getting ready to tie dye most projects. Your Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit always comes with the basic tie-dye essentials you'll need for your tie-dye project:

  • Easy-squeeze bottles with dye powder
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Rubber bands
  • Instructions/inspiration guide

Additional tie-dye supplies we recommend:

  • 100% natural fiber T-shirt/fabric item (cotton, rayon or silk)
  • Disposable plastic surface cover (or even a large trash bag)
  • Sealable plastic bag or plastic wrap (for keeping your project damp while it sets)
  • Wire rack (to help prevent the project from sitting in pooled dye underneath it)
  • Washable marker (for shape tie-dye techniques like heart tie dye or mandala

Before getting started, place your disposable plastic surface cover on your work surface to protect from any accidental dye spills or stains. It makes cleanup from any tie-dye activity so much easier!

Picture of Step 1: Pick your project

Step 1: Pick your project

There are so many items you can tie dye! Whether you want to tie dye a T-shirt or something else like tie-dye socks, tie-dye shoes, tie-dye shorts or even tie-dye bedding, the most important thing for a successful tie-dye project is to make sure your item is made from 100% natural fibers like cotton, rayon or silk. Synthetic (manmade) fabrics like polyester have different kinds of fibers and won’t absorb much dye if at all.

 Once you have your item to tie dye, you do not have to presoak it in soda ash because Tulip One-Step Dyes already have soda ash in the mix. However, you should prewash your fabric before tie dyeing, especially if it’s new. New fabrics are coated in a chemical called sizing to help keep them wrinkle and stain free, but sizing can block the dye from fully absorbing into the fabric. Wash fabrics without fabric softener, which can also block dye absorption. Leave your T-shirt or fabric item damp for the tie-dye process.

Picture of Step 2: Prep your dye

Step 2: Prep your dye

Tulip One-Step Dye bottles come with the dye powder in the bottles. To mix your dye, remove the nozzle and add tap water to the fill line on each bottle. Replace the nozzle with the cap still on, and shake each bottle thoroughly until all dye powder dissolves. Wait to mix your dyes until you are ready to apply them. Dyes left unapplied for more than 72 hours might lose their concentration and might not appear as vibrant after dyeing.

Picture of Step 3: Bind the fabric

Step 3: Bind the fabric

Lay your damp T-shirt (or fabric) out flat onto your covered word surface. For a perfect center spiral for a Spiral Technique, locate the center of the collar and the section just under the sleeves. This is your center point for your spiral tie dye! Pinch the fabric at this point and twist into a swirl. Keep twisting the fabric tightly until the entire shirt is formed into a spiral shape. Use 3 rubber bands to hold your spiraled shirt in place, crisscrossing the rubber bands to create 6 wedge shapes.

Picture of Step 4: Apply dye

Step 4: Apply dye

Wearing the plastic gloves from your kit, place your project on a wire rack if using. You can apply as many dye colors as wedge shapes created with the rubber bands, or as few as one dye color. There’s no wrong way to tie dye! However you decide to apply your dyes, flip over your spiral and match the dyes in the same color pattern on the back.

Picture of Step 5: Let set

Step 5: Let set

Place your dyed project into a sealable plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap to keep it damp while the dye completely processes. This will take 6 to 8 hours or overnight if you want to give it some extra time. Note: It’s important for the fabric to remain damp while the dye sets so it can fully absorb into the fabric fibers.

Picture of Step 6: Rinse and wash

Step 6: Rinse and wash

Once your dye has fully processed, remove the rubber bands and check out your spiral tie dye! Rinse, wash and dry according to your instruction guide.

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Pinit Image 6 Ways to Make Spiral Tie Dye

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