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How to Set Tie Dye in Fabric

Before you wear and wash your tie dye projects, use this how to set fabric dye tutorial to ensure that all your beautiful colors do not run.

By: Kaylee Pope, Editor, FaveCrafts.com
How to Set Tie Dye in Fabric
How to Set Tie Dye in Fabric
This image courtesy of favecrafts.com

Since tie dye projects involve lots of wear and tear after the fact, the aftercare of a tie dye project is almost as important of a skill as those crazy, cool tie dye techniques you use to create stunning tie dye designs. If you cannot keep your tie dye from fading, it can be hard to show off those artistic skills. While it is important to learn how to wash your tie dye shirts after the fact (and for the rest of their brightly-colored lives), these techniques can prove fruitless if you do not know how to set fabric dye into your tie dye projects.

In general, if you are using quality tie dye product for your projects, fading should not present too much of an issue. Despite this, it is still a smart idea to take precautionary measures. This is especially true if you are creating tie dye projects with kids. Kids can wear out clothing quickly and with gusto. They also become attached to things they created on their own. Using these methods to prevent tie dye from fading can save you some heartbreak down the line.

Luckily for you, this process is insanely easy and takes minimal effort. Follow the instructions below to learn How to Set Tie Dye in Fabric and prevent your tie dye patterns from fading. The full tutorial below tells you everthing you need to know about post-tie dye rituals. In addition to setting the dye, follow the link below for washing tie dye projects after creating them.

Time to CompleteIn an evening

Beginner

Project TypeMake a Project

Materials List

  • Large bucket or other container
  • Cold water
  • White Vinegar
  • ½ cup of salt

How to Prevent Tie Dye from Fading

Setting tie dye is easy. All you need to do to set tie dye into your projects and prevent your projects from fading is soak the project overnight in vinegar before washing it in the machine. Follow the how to prevent tie dye from fading instructions below to set your fabric dye perfectly.

White Vinegar Soak

  1. Fill a large bucket with 1-2 cups of white vinegar depending on the size of your garment and bucket.

  2. Add cool water to the bucket, leaving a few inches at the top.

  3. Swish the water around a few times to make sure the vinegar and water combine.

  4. Place your tie dye project into the bucket.

  5. Allow to soak for AT least 30 minutes. 

  6. Remove the garment from the bucket. Wring out.

Washing Tie Dye Projects for the First Time

  1. Wondering how to wash a tie dye shirt for the first time? Vinegar is your friend here, too. Wash your tie dye project in the washing machine with ½ cup of table salt and 1 cup white vinegar to further set the dye.

    Note: Wash each and every tie dye project alone for the first time. Do not combine several tie dye projects in the washer in hopes of saving time and money. The projects may run and blend dyes in the machine, causing an unattractive brown shade.

Note: In general, if you are using a high quality tie dye like Tulip that is especially designed for this process, this setting process is simply an extra measure. These dyes are especially designed to set into your fabric chemically and should remain bright and beautiful.

Which methods have you tried for setting tie dye in fabric? Let us know in the comments!

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This information is inaccurate and this technique will not actually do anything. The only thing that sets fiber reactive dyes, which are the best dyes for cotton, is soda ash. Otherwise, you are just putting vinegar on your clothes for no reason. http//www.dharmatrading.com/techniques/tiedye/tie- == dye-instructions.html?lnav=techniquestiedye.html

Thank you so much for all your effort, time and invaluable information and tools! This site is a great tool and friend for craters and artists! #FaveCraftsTieDye

So much useful information available! What a great site! #FaveCraftTyeDie

Thanks so much for all the information you give on the individual crafts projects... Love it when I'm a first timer to try some of your listed projects and you give step-by-step instructions on how to do them! And would love to try to Tie-Dye also and with a few friends would even be greater and a lot of fun! Good luck to everyone on the Tie-Dye Party contest! FaveCraftsTieDye

didn't know about salt!!! I have to try this because a shirt I dyed last year has started fading already - ( FaveCraftsTieDye

This is great. Mine would have faded if I'd not read this. First time tie die time. FaveCraftsTieDye

It is really helpful to know how to get it to permanently set. Thanks for the info. FaveCraftsTieDye

Great tip to have! 3 FaveCraftsTieDye

I really need this one. FaveCraftsTieDye.

Great tips. Love the suggestions! These are great for anyone who hasn't done tie-dye before, like myself. FaveCraftsTieDye

Thanks for this information. Would hate for a project to fade!! FaveCraftsTieDye

Good to know that it will be permanently set. FaveCraftsTieDye

FaveCraftsTieDye. these are great! I can redo my whole closet

This information is SO helpful! After all the work on a garment, I would really hate to have it fade. Thank you FaveCrafts!

Oh, how I wish FaveCrafts had existed back during my high school tie dye phase! It was always so, so disappointing when I spent a bunch of time working on a tie dye design and I wasn't able to get the dye to set. Now I feel brave enough to try again.

FaveCraftsTieDye. This is definitely the best instruction to save me from wasting all the time designing my projects. Thanks.

You know I have been looking for the perfect tie dye fabric everywhere I can think of and have not found the perfect one because it is not what I wanted. I did not even think of making my own any color or design I want. I have tie dyed T-shirts in middle school years ago but never fabric. I wondered if the dye would come out. Is there any fabric you can not use? Which fabric is the best? Now that I know how to set the dye in I will try it. Thanks.

Hi, The best fabrics are natural ones like 100% cotton, wool, bamboo, silk, etc. If you want to tie dye on synthetic fabrics there are certain dyes that will work on that type of fabric. Check the instructions on the container before you buy. You can also do a search for natural dyes that are made from foods, etc.

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