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How to Tie Dye: 10 Tie Dye Instructions & Techniques

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How to Make Tie Dye Designs

Learn all about the basic tie dye techniques and find cool tie dye designs and how to do them.

By: Dana Byerwalter, Editor, FaveCrafts.com
Updated February 12, 2018
This image courtesy of favecrafts.com

You may have seen a variety of tie dye patterns as you explore different ideas for what to make this summer. But it's time to get back to basics!

Here you'll learn how to make tie dye designs. Once you have a basic understanding of how folding and dying creates those beloved patterns, you'll be equipped to experiment with your folding and dying to make completely unique projects to you!

As a special bonus, just in case you need a little more guidance before running wild with designing your own tie dye projects, we have a list at the bottom of this article of different tie dye tutorials to help you out.

Get excited! DIY tie dye designs are soon to be yours for the making.

Tie Dye Folding Techniques

You can fold, crumple, swirl, and bunch your fabric into a variety of shapes to create new and unique tie dye patterns. There are a few classic tie dye patterns below utilizing these techniques, but here we'll focus on folding. 

  1. When folding your fabric to dye, it's important to be sure you do one of two things: dye your fabric using only one color by submerging the entire fabric item in dye, or be very careful when squirting colors from a bottle so they don't blend together in the wrong way and turn brown. In fact, the latter is important no matter how your project is folded!

    As a general rule, the more intricately folded your fabric is, the more likely it is that colors will not permeate through the cloth. When color doesn't permeate, it can create appealing white spaces, but sometimes if you end up with too much white space this might not be the intended effect.

  2. You can always keep it simple and accordian fold your fabric. This is a great option for beginners. Learn more about this technique here: Folding Tie Dye Technique.

  3. Some techniques like itajime, which is a form of shibori tie dye, not only involve a great deal of folding but a shape resist technique as well. Accordion fold your fabric in two directions: you'll fold one way to you end up with a long strip, and then you'll accordion fold in the other direction so you end up with a square. Bind with rubber bands.

Twine and Rubber Band Tie Dye

  1. Rubberbands and twine are key to getting those white lines throughout that add depth and interest to your tie dye patterns! Add as many or as few as you see fit to your folded or crumpled (or swirled!) fabric. 

  2. You can even use found objects like marbles, blocks of wood, and other items. Then you can secure those in the fabric using twine or rubberbands to get unique patterns.

    Picture below: Funky Tie Dye Socks and Pink Butterfly DIY Tie-Dye Shirt.

  3. It's really as simple as that! Folding or crumpling your fabric, then adding rubber bands, are the two steps to preparing your fabric for dying and achieving those unique designs!

Tie Dye Techniques and Resources

Want to achieve a specific effect with tie dye? Check out our basic tutorials below.

Ombre Tie Dye Technique

A spray bottle helps you use the ombre tie-dye technique on fabric.

Folding Tie Dye Technique

This folding tie-dye technique with photos makes it simple to create beautiful wearables and home accents.

Sunburst Tie Dye Technique

Create colorful bursts of color on fabric with this sunburst tie-dye technique.

Salt Resist Tie Dye Technique

Use salt to create subtle, textured designs in tie-dye with this salt resist tie-dye technique

Bullseye Tie Dye Technique

Create circles of tie-dye color on shirts and other fabrics with the bullseye tie-dye technique.

Crumple Tie Dye Technique

Classic and easy way to create tie-dye designs in shirts and other fabrics. 

Swirl Tie Dye Technique

If you've ever wanted to learn how to tie-dye, this is the perfect project to try. 

Spider Tie Dye Design

The Spider Tie Dye Design is a gorgeous way to combine bright colors with a darker dye. 

Heart Tie Dye Technique

Follow the written instructions below to create a tie-dye heart design on fabric. 

How to Use Tulip One Step Fashion Dye

If you've always wanted to try dying fabric but didn't know where to start, this is the perfect article for you! 

How to Tie Dye Instructions: A Step-by-Step Guide

The general steps of how to tie dye are probably relatively blurry in your mind. 

How to Remove Tie Dye from Skin

First off, there is no reason to panic. No matter what you do, tie dye will eventually wear off from your skin. 

How to Set Tie Dye in Fabric

If you cannot keep your tie dye from fading, it can be hard to show off those artistic skills. 

How to Wash Tie Dye Shirts and Projects

Washing your tie dye projects and tie dye shirts properly is imperative to keeping colors bright and projects perfect.

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