The Tie Dye Guide

Tie Dying has been a go-to craft for many years and while it may be associated with memories of summer camp, it’s also an amazing craft to do at home. Not only is it easy to execute, but it just so happens to be one of the hottest fashion trends of the season. This truly is the perfect craft for both kids and adults.

We know digging into a craft can seem daunting, especially when supplies are limited, but we’ve pulled together some tips and tricks to help you tie dye like a pro.


Supplies that you need for tie dying: includes yellow, red, blue, purple, and green dye in plastic squeeze bottles, rubber bands, gloves, and a Tulip Tie Dying Kit


Here’s what you’ll need

Tools for tie dying

  • Apparel – While most choose to tie dye blank apparel, you can certainly use any old tees or sweats you have at home – especially for your first try! The key is to find an item that is either 100% cotton or uses all-natural fibers (like silk or rayon). These types of fabrics absorb the color of the dye much better than synthetic fabrics. Our favorites include these sweats and this unisex t-shirt.
  • Clothing dye – This is a must-have to get started and can be found at many craft stores or online businesses. Here are some popular starter kits – the easiest option is a full tie dye kit which will contain everything you need except the clothing item and tarp! You can also use bleach to tie dye colored garments. Pro tip: if you aren’t able to find clothing dye, food coloring is a great replacement!
  • Tarp – Depending on where you are crafting you may need to lay down a tarp or plastic cover to prevent staining
  • Rubber bands – These are the key to creating your pattern! If you can’t find traditional rubber bands, try using old hair ties!
  • Gloves – Gloves are a necessity if you want to avoid staining your hands. Try and find thin gloves (i.e. latex gloves) that will protect your hands without adding too much bulk.
  • Squeeze bottles – While many dyes already come in easy to squeeze bottles, having extras will allow you to mix colors together and will give you more control over where you place your colors on the garments.
  • Dye fixative – Using a fixative will help prevent bleeding and ensures your new tie dyed goodies stand the test of time (or the test of the washing machine). As with many of the items needed, this should come with a kit. If you’re not purchasing a kit you can buy a fixative here!
  • Large Ziploc bags – These will be used to store your dyed garment overnight.


Here’s what you’ll do



Steps for tie dying

  1. Setup

Before you get started, it’s important to pre-wash your garments. The item needs to be damp before you begin the tie dye process and pre-washing helps ensure dirt and dust have been removed. You will also need to ensure that you have all of your stations prepared, tarp laid out, dyes mixed and poured into squeeze bottles, and gloves on.

      2.  Create your pattern

While there are plenty of options when it comes to patterns and application techniques, we’re highlighting the two most common methods below:

How to Tie Dye prewash


The crumple

This is the least methodical method and certainly the easiest to execute. You start by bunching the item together (we recommend starting at the center) until you’ve made a ball. The more you crumble, the more patterns you will see on the final product. There is no rhyme or reason to this method – results will vary!


The swirl

This method results in that iconic rainbow spiral effect. To start, lay your garment on a flat surface. Next, pinch the middle of the clothing and twist clockwise until your shirt or garment is in the shape of a spiral. You may also use a cooking utensil, or fork – just place the tip of the object in the center of your garment and swirl. Once you have your spiral shape, you will secure it with three rubber bands. Be sure to place them evenly around the item in order to create an asterisk.


Person applying tie dye to each section of the tied up t-shirt.


      3. Apply the dye

Now for the magic! There’s no right or wrong way to apply the dye although a few tips to ensure you get your desired outcome.

If you’re looking to create the traditional rainbow swirl, you will want to apply yellow, red, and blue equally (each color gets it’s own 1/3 of the garment). Be sure not to leave any white spots. There will be white in the end – it’s hiding between the folds!

If you’re using the crumple method you can spray your shirt at will! Just don’t forget to add dye to both sides.

When you’re all finished place your items – still banded together – in their own Ziploc baggies and let it sit overnight.


  1. Finish the job

You’ve made it to the next morning – now what? Remove the item from the bag and prepare the dye fixative. Follow the instructions for the fixative you have – typically you will add the solution to warm water and dissolve. Once the fixative solution is ready, place your tie dye garment inside and let sit for however long the packaging recommends.

The final step is to remove the item from the fixative solution, rinse in cold water to remove excess dye, and air dry. Viola! You have your very own tie dyed garment!


Let us know how your creations turn out!

3 thoughts on “The Tie Dye Guide

  1. Hi there! This article could not be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this post to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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