4 Super Tie-Dye Techniques For Beginners

4 Super Tie-Dye Techniques For Beginners

Tie-dyeing is the name of a process for coloring fabrics and items of clothing, without the need for special tools or machinery

It is something that everyone can do; even, – literally – on the kitchen table. In a previous article in Life Daily, we explained the basics, and how to tie-dye a simple T-shirt.

Now we will explain how to employ special tie-dye techniques to produce different patterns and effects. Tie-dyeing is a very forgiving process; it is almost impossible to make a mistake – or at least a mistake that anyone will notice. This is because the very nature of the dyeing method produces seemingly random color mixtures and designs.

The tie-dye techniques shown here will enable you to exercise some control over patterns that you decide upon, and where to place them on the fabric

The four techniques are called:

  • The Spiral
  • The Bunch
  • The Accordion
  • Dip-dyeing

Note: Before starting the dyeing process you must soak the material in a solution of warm water and soda ash for about 10 minutes. Then wring the the fabric out thoroughly.
Always wear rubber gloves; the soda is caustic and will sting.

The Spiral

Spirals are the easiest patterns to create on items that have a large surface area like T-shirts, pillow cases, or sheets.
You begin by pinching the middle or the side of the shirt (wherever you want the center of the spiral to be) and continue twisting until it’s a big swirl. You can use a thin wooden dowel rod to help the bunched up fabric form itself into a ‘pie’ shape.
Hold the pie together with rubber bands. You can then proceed with the standard tie-dyeing process.

The Bunch

This design really has no rules! You start by bunching up the fabric in any way you want. Then apply a number of rubber bands to hold the shape that you have created. Remember, the more rubber bands you use, the more the dye will resist.

This means that the dye will not be able to penetrate fully into the material, and quite a lot of white will be visible in the finished item.

The Accordion

This design can either make horizontal or vertical stripes. It works well with white jeans, for example, but the technique can also be applied to other items.

Start by pleating the fabric from the base of the item to the top. If you are doing jeans, you can either do both legs at the same time or each separately; by doing that, you will end up with different designs on each leg.


As the name implies, this involves simply dipping the fabric into a bucket of dye. Dip dyeing is a cool base coat for your garments, and super easy. You just dip a portion of your chosen item in dye and let it dry.

If you want a gradient affect, try dipping the whole garment really quickly, then use clothes pins to let the bottoms soak in the bucket. Leave for at least 20-30 minutes to really saturate the ends.

As you have now learned, there are many tie-dye techniques you can use to bring variety to your work

These were just a few examples. Can you suggest some others? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas; you can use the comment feed below.