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Professional tie dye enthusiasts use heavy chemicals and expensive dyes, but you can get the same fashionable results by following these instructions


  • Fabric Dye
  • Garment or Tie Dye Item: 100% cotton for best results
  • Rubber Bands
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Clean Bucket or Buckets to put dye in


1. Put down newspaper or a covering of some kind in the space where you plan to work to ensure easy clean up and less mess.

2. The dye is hard to clean and often stains, so try to use disposable materials and utensils such as newspaper for coverings, plastics spoons for measuring dyes, and wooden paint mixers to stir your creations.

3. Prepare your dyes in the mixing bucket or buckets by following the directions on the back of the dye manufacture’s label. Make sure to wear gloves to protect your hands and skin from staining. Mixing your dyes often involves boiling water to a very hot temperature, so you may want to get your parent or guardian to help you out with this part!

4. Once you have mixed your dyes and they are on stand-by, you need to pretreat the garment or item you will be tie dying. Remember you can tie dye pretty much anything, but we do suggest that you use a 100% cotton garment for best results. Pre-shrink the item by washing in hot water. Then, while the garment is still wet, shake and smooth it out and get ready to design.

Design Your Tie Dye Creation

After pre-treating, but while the item is still wet, is when you will want to rubber band your design into shape. Here are some suggested design strategies.

1. The Spiral: Begin by laying your wet garment out smooth on a flat surface, then pinch the middle of the item with your thumb and pointer finger - or use a clothes pin - and then begin to rotate the fabric in a circular motion around your middle pinch. Keep rotating the fabrics so it winds around the center to form pleats in the fabric (your garment should resemble something like a cinnamon roll!) Make sure your spiral is tight and its pleats are fairly uniform and then bind it up tightly with rubber bands and dye.

2. Circles: Circles can be made by pinching areas of the garment. The size of the circle will depend on the amount of fabric you bind; the more the fabric, the bigger the circle. Take the pinched amount of fabric and bind the entire portion with a rubber band so that barely any fabric is showing. Insert as many circles as you want or put them only on certain areas of the item for a unique look. This circle design can also be achieved by inserting round items, such as marbles, into the end of the fabric and then tying off the object in the end with rubber bands. Once you have your circles designed the way you want them, it is time to dye!

3. Shading: To get a look of a coloring fading, immerse the entire garment into the dye for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Then lift the shirt from the dye so that 2/3 of the shirt remain in the dye and gently dip this portion of the garment back and forth for 5-10 minutes. Then repeat this second step for the last 1/3 of the item and remove item from dye to rinse. When rinsing under cool water, hold the garment so that the lightest color is held at the top, allowing water to flow down over the darkest area, until water runs clear.


1. When dying your garment you should let your item soak for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remember the longer you let it soak, the darker the color will be. For a pastel look, soak for 10-15 minutes; for darker, more vibrant colors soak for 20-30 minutes. To judge your colors, you can always sneak a peek and see how the dying progress is going.

2. Remember to stir your item periodically during the dying process.

Post Dying Instructions

1. Remove your garment from the dye and keep bound in elastic bands.

2. Lay your garment out on a newspaper - still in elastic bands - allowing it to absorb any extra dye.

3. Put your creation in a plastic bag, seal it and place in a warm place to let it marinate.

4. “Set” the colors by allowing garment to sit for 12 to 24 hours, the longer you let it sit, the better your results will be. Patience is key here!

5. Remember to keep your item in the elastic bands through this part of the tie dying process!


1. Once your item has had time to set, remove dye from garment by rinsing initially in cold to cool water.

2. If you have used multiple colors, saturate the entire item as soon as possible and all at once to prevent colors from bleeding together.

3. After the initial rinse of cool water, remove the rubber bands.

4. Once you have taken off the rubber bands, continue to rinse in warm to hot water until the water runs clear with no traces of dye.


1. Once you have rinsed the dye out of the garment thoroughly, you can then wash the item in warm water with a mild, chlorine and bleach-free detergent.

2. It is suggested to initially wash your garment in a sink or a bucket alone to prevent the staining of any other clothes or your washing machine. After its first wash, wash it again by itself to ensure that it does not stain any other clothes. By following these steps first, your tie dye should be set and machine washer safe!

3. To dry your item you can either line hang it or machine dry it on medium heat.

TA DA! There you have it - your very own groovy, tie dyed creation. Have fun!

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