We thought tie-dye hit a new peak last summer, but it’s clearly a trend that’s here to stay this season as well. This year we’re seeing everything from tie-dyed caftans and maxi dresses to jumpsuits and denim. Dyeing fabric can be a bit of a process, but it’s one that’s both easy and a ton of fun! Let’s take a look at both how to tie-dye and which fabrics are best for the process!
All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise stated. See chart below for sizing specifications. Note, this specific pattern is available up to a size 30.
First, you’ll want to wash and dry your fabric; this will remove any chemicals from the manufacturing process that may have effects on your dyes. Once your fabric is washed and dried, we’ll start with the supply preparation.
Optional: Fabric can be damp, not soaking wet, this will help the dyes adhere to the fabric more evenly.
I used three different techniques. By twisting the fabric it creates spirals, because I am doing multiple yards at once, I wanted to diversify the pattern of the dyes. Place a garbage bag on your workstation before beginning the dying and tying process.
By pinching the fabric and twisting, rotating in clockwise or counterclockwise directions, you can keep your yardage either flat on the table or use hair ties/rubber bands to secure smaller areas. You can use twine to tie larger areas. I chose to keep my yardage flat so I could control where I would place my dyes and have more control over the pattern.
By creating organic swirling spirals you will get more disbursement of your dyes. In my experience with the higher the folds, the more white (undyed) fabric will remain. Optional: After placing your dyes if you want less white (or original color of fabric exposed) you can make a diluted dye bath and dip the entire piece of fabric!
The next two techniques are inspired by Shibori Dying, which is a Japanese traditional method of dye-resist style folding and pressing of fabric using wooden blocks to meticulously create patterns and repeats with the dyes. I decided to use a pinching or circle style of grabbing and tying off the fabric to make round impressions with the dye.
Another style inspired by Shibori Dying, without using wooden blocks, is to create pleating by carefully and evenly folding from selvage to selvage (raw edge of fabric to raw edge of fabric).
I took two hair ties and locked them into one another to create a longer wrap. Using hair ties is less wasteful, and less likely to snap like rubber bands. Here I wrapped the pleats from either end to make lines in the folds. When tied tighter and more closely, your striped sections will be more obvious.
Once all sections of the fabric are secured, I placed a garbage bag underneath. You can start with the bag underneath first.
I filled my spray bottle with cool water; this will help keep my fabric damp while I lay down my diluted fabric dyes.
When preparing your fabric dye, use a ratio of 2 cups warm water (not boiling) to 2 tablespoons of Liquid Rit Dye. I prepared mine and funneled them into the plastic squeeze bottles. Give them a gentle shake so the colors stay evenly mixed in the squeeze bottles.
There is NO wrong way to tie-dye! My suggestion is to start by adding color sporadically first. Try to visualize what colors you want together, in what orders, the more generous you are especially in between folds – the stronger and bolder those areas will result!
My first color is ‘Evening Blue,’ I may have been a bit more generous with dye to water ratio with this first batch of blue because I wanted some areas darker than others. Later in the process, I diluted more and more with each color to create different gradients.
Next up is ‘Coral’, I wanted to work in stages so I could control where and how much of each color I used. This color turned out much redder than anticipated, so I slowly diluted it as I worked into its second round.
When adding your second, third, fourth colors, etc. I suggest being meticulous with where it is placed. Sometimes randomly laying the color can look messy or unintentional. And considering this is a yardage of fabric and not a T-shirt or garment – I want to be sure the dying looks spontaneous and harmonizes throughout each section.
Lastly, I used ‘Neon Green’, which happens to be my favorite color! I saved this color for last because it is the only neon and I didn’t want it to overpower the first two colors I put down.
To avoid there being too much of the original fabric color, I put the nozzle of my squeeze bottle in between some folds so there could be areas with larger sections of green.
Going through each color at a time, diluting the ‘Coral’ with more water gave me some variation with where I placed it.
Between each color use your spray bottle to keep the fabric damp – helping the colors blend nicer and look less like splatter paint. Having softer edges where the dye is laid is created using this approach.
Once all the color is laid down, scrunch the fabric a bit unless it is already tied/wrapped tightly.
Let this sit somewhere out of direct sunlight for 24 hours, rinse thoroughly in cool water and hang dry. When cutting and sewing into a garment it’s best to wash on cold and hang dry in the future to avoid the dye running or fading.
And voila!!! Masterpiece. I am very happy with how my fabric Tie-Dye turned out. I think it looks more modern with the origins fabric background being more abundant. This will be cut and sewn into a garment!
In the top right of this photo, you can see the spiral technique:
Here is a circle technique, which is shown above as the second approach:
On the left side of this photo, you can see the pleating technique; bottom right is the spiral!
This area is my favorite, you can see how the diluted ‘Coral’ and diluted ‘Evening Blue’ have a ring around them, which was caused by the fabric being damp:
Finished full piece of fabric yardage: