Tye-Dye – Tips and Techniques

There’s something magical about tie-dye with a different result every time. The dye colours merge and blend to create some incredible effects.

How to Make

    Follow the Tie-Dye Kit instructions for adding water to the dye bottles and applying colour onto the fabric. The finished effect will vary depending the following:
  1. The number of folds
  2. How the fabric is folded
  3. Where the elastic bands are tied
  4. How tightly the elastic bands are wrapped
  5. The strength of the dye
  6. The type of fabric you are using
  7. The dimensions of your fabric
  8. Before you start, rinse the fabric then squeeze out most of the water until it is damp. This helps the dye colours to spread through the folds
  • 1. Diagonal X Pattern: Fold the fabric in half. Fold the fabric in half again to make 4 equal sections. Starting with one corner, fold the fabric diagonally with a 2cm pleat, turn the fabric over then repeat. Continue pleating and turning until the fabric is folded into a concertina strip. The size of the pleats will vary depending on the size and weight of the fabric. Thin fabric can be folded into smaller pleats. As a rough guide, for larger items (eg. an apron) make the pleats 3-4cm, for smaller pieces of fabric (eg. a handkerchief size) make the folds 1-2cm) Tightly wrap elastic bands around the folded fabric at regular intervals.
  • 2. Lines or grid pattern: Fold the fabric in half. Fold it in half again making 4 equal sections. Fold one of the straight edges in 2cm pleat, turn the fabric over then repeat with another pleat. Continue pleating and turning until the fabric is folded into a concertina strip. Tightly wrap elastic bands around the folded fabric at regular intervals.
  • 3. Radiating Circle Pattern: Fold the fabric in half. Fold it in half again making 4 equal sections. Fold the fabric diagonally in half to make a triangle shape. Fold it diagonally in half again, and then again to make a pointed, thin triangle shape. Tightly wrap elastic bands around the folded fabric at regular intervals, starting near the thin point of the triangle. The thin end will be the centre of the circle pattern.
  • 4. Zig-Zag Pattern To dye a larger item, fold it in half before starting to pleat the edges. Fold over one of the edges into a 2cm pleat, turn the fabric over then repeat with another pleat. Continue pleating and turning until the fabric is folded into a concertina strip. Hold the pleats together then twist the strip around a cardboard tube covered with a plastic bag. Wrap an elastic band around one end of the fabric to hold it in place on the tube then tightly wrap more bands at intervals along the twisted fabric. The size of the tube will vary depending on the size of your fabric. For larger items like aprons or T-shirts, use a long tube from wrapping paper, or something similar. For small pieces of fabric, use a wooden spoon handle or a paintbrush.
  • To dye the fabric: Wear the disposable gloves in the kit then follow the instructions for adding water to the dye bottle and applying it onto the fabric. Squeeze the dye over the cushion cover. Press and roll the fabric so the dye reaches into the folds.
    Leave the fabric to dry for 6-8 hours over a bowl with newspaper or paper towel underneath, or place it onto a piece of thick corrugated card cut from a cardboard box.
    Remove all the elastic bands (with gloves on) then open out the fabric. If it still feels very wet, remove any excess dye with paper towel or leave it to dry for a bit longer.
    Rinse the cushion cover in water then leave it to fully dry. Cover it with a pressing cloth then iron out the creases.
  • Tips:
  • For wider white stripes or more white in the pattern, use 2 elastic bands for making each tie.
  • When fabric has been tightly pleated, there may be white areas in the middle where the dye hasn’t reached. White areas can be coloured in by squeezing a small amount of dye from the bottle while the fabric is still damp, or leave this effect as part of the design.
  • To make a blended or rainbow-coloured pattern, wrap the elastic bands around the fabric to hold the pleats firmly in place shape but not too tightly. This allows the dye to spread under the elastic along the pleats without any of the original fabric colour showing through as white lines.
  • Wrapping folded fabric around a cardboard tube is an easy way to make a diagonal pattern. A thin tube from wrapping paper is the ideal size. Cover the tube with a plastic bag, wrap the folded fabric over the top then cut the tube into a shorter length so it’s easier to wrap the elastic bands on top.
  • If you are using a selection of colours, lift up the fabric after applying each dye to mop away any pools on your work surface with paper towels to keep it as clean as possible.
  • If the dye colours appear too pale after the fabric has dried, it can be re-tied and dyed again using darker colours.
  • For stronger dye colours, try filling just ½ the bottle with water. Shake the bottle so the dye powder is thoroughly mixed.
  • Tie-dying an absorbent fabric will produce a merged colour patterns rather than a more controlled tie-dye pattern.
  • Trimmings and offcuts from dyed fabric can be used to make little cards or tags.
  • To iron the fabric after dying, always use a pressing cloth over the tie-dye and cover your ironing board as some colour may come off. Any thin fabric like and old pillowcase or sheet is ideal for pressing.
  • What you'll need

    AX944

    AX109

    Total £0.00