DIY Tie-Dye: Photo Tutorial

4 05 2013

tie dye1
Yeah! I decided a few weeks ago to try tie-dye and have become slightly obsessed! A couple nights ago I did a massive tie dye session (partly to try out a new range of dye colors, and partly for something that I have future Etsy plans for), and managed to document with photos. Though others have done tie-dye tutorials before and better than me, I decided to share my experience:

everything you need

everything you need


See your “ingredients” above. Every source I read recommended to use soda ash, which is this white powder you pour into water that helps the cloth absorb dye. I bought this Tulip brand soda ash for $6 at Hobby Lobby. It comes with 2 packs. I also bought Tulip dye. The small primary color package costs $10; the Carousel package is $20 and has extra dye packets (but Hobby Lobby has a weekly 40% off coupon).
It’s also SUPER important to remember: use NATURAL fabrics. This tutorial is for fiber reactive dye like Tulip which is, from what I’ve seen, the easiest stuff to find, use, and buy. So – make sure your fabrics are cotton, silk, viscose, rayon….if it’s synthetic like polyester, it won’t bind with the dye (acid dyes are another story). See the end of the post to see what happens when you try to dye synthetics the “wrong way.” Oh, also if you’re using cotton – remember that it shrinks, so you might want to wash it first.
You need gloves, because this stuff will dye your skin. Seriously. I turned the garage into my work station by laying down plastic garbage bags.
First step: fill a bucket with water and pour in the soda ash:
Adding soda ash to water

Adding soda ash to water


What you want to do is stir in and soak all your fabrics for about 20 minutes:
Add and stir all cloth into the soda ash water.

Add and stir all cloth into the soda ash water.


Then wring out each piece and lay flat on the garbage bags. You DO want them to be wet when you dye them.

Then wring out each piece and lay flat on the garbage bags. You DO want them to be wet when you dye them.


lay out flat...

lay out flat…


Then you have to bind up with rubber bands all your fabrics. You can do a spiral, bulls eye, stripes, crumply style, etc….endless options. I won’t get into too much detail about how to do those, because if you get a Tulip dye kit, it has a “how to” guide.
Quick spiral example: from your laid-flat shirt, pick a point that you want to be the center of the spiral.

Quick spiral example: from your laid-flat shirt, pick a point that you want to be the center of the spiral.


Hold the point and twist. Keep twisting until the shirt is fully wrapped; it will look kind of like a hurricane.

Hold the point and twist. Keep twisting until the shirt is fully wrapped; it will look kind of like a hurricane.


You can see the "hurricane" shape start to form. Try to tuck in the edges and end with a circular lump. Bind it with rubber bands.

You can see the “hurricane” shape start to form. Try to tuck in the edges and end with a circular lump. Bind it with rubber bands.


Here's a bunch of my shirts bound up.

Here’s a bunch of my shirts bound up.


Now it’s time to dye! Be very careful, because if it gets anywhere, it will stain.
Fill up the dye bottles to the line at the top. They already have dye in them. Then shake until all the powdered dye is dissolved.

Fill up the dye bottles to the line at the top. They already have dye in them. Then shake until all the powdered dye is dissolved.


A spiral example: the bound-up spiral looks kind of like a pie. Think of pie pieces when you dye it. Squeeze a triangle of 1 color and do the same on the triangle opposite.

A spiral example: the bound-up spiral looks kind of like a pie. Think of pie pieces when you dye it. Squeeze a triangle of 1 color and do the same on the triangle opposite.


Add your next color. I love overlapping to make purples, greens, and oranges.

Add your next color. I love overlapping to make purples, greens, and oranges.


Last, add the yellow.

Last, add the yellow.


Flip it over. Now dye this side. You want to put as much dye as possible - there will still be white places inside the folds of the shirt.

Flip it over. Now dye this side. You want to put as much dye as possible – there will still be white places inside the folds of the shirt.


Primary colored spiral on the left, carousel colored one of the right

Primary colored spiral on the left, carousel colored one of the right


When finished, put each item into its own plastic bag. Wrap and leave for 24 hours. Tulip advises for 8, but you get nice bright colors with 24.

When finished, put each item into its own plastic bag. Wrap and leave for 24 hours. Tulip advises for 8, but you get nice bright colors with 24.


The next day, it's time to wash out the dye! Here's a piece fresh out of the bag that's dyed "bulls eye" style. Put on gloves...

The next day, it’s time to wash out the dye! Here’s a piece fresh out of the bag that’s dyed “bulls eye” style. Put on gloves…


Wash out the dye until the water runs clear. Some sources say use cold, some say warm, some say hot and fade to cold. I've tried it all 3 ways, and they all work. I prefer cold first, then warm (gets more magenta out), then finish with cold.

Wash out the dye until the water runs clear. Some sources say use cold, some say warm, some say hot and fade to cold. I’ve tried it all 3 ways, and they all work. I prefer cold first, then warm (gets more magenta out), then finish with cold.


Then take your rubber bands off (cut them if it's easier) and keep washing. This shirt is done; now I can hang it up until the rest are finished.

Then take your rubber bands off (cut them if it’s easier) and keep washing. This shirt is done; now I can hang it up until the rest are finished.


After rinsing out, you’ll then need to put the items in the washing machine. I use warm water and detergent. The colors will fade but only slightly. Here’s the finished bulls eye shirt:
finished bulls eye

finished bulls eye


Back to the washing:
This one is a double spiral with crumpled ends.

This one is a double spiral with crumpled ends.


...with the rubber bands off, still wet

…with the rubber bands off, still wet


Here are some more of the final products:
carousel spiral...oh, the carousel kit also has black dye, but I decided to save it for later, because I didn't have enough cloth for the dye as is.

carousel spiral…oh, the carousel kit also has black dye, but I decided to save it for later, because I didn’t have enough cloth for the dye as is.


primary color spiral

primary color spiral


spiral and a crumpled shirt on the right. Both had some nylon components. You can see how those parts didn't take to the dye, just very faintly.

spiral and a crumpled shirt on the right. Both had some nylon components. You can see how those parts didn’t take to the dye, just very faintly.


a closer look at the nylon with only faint dye

a closer look at the nylon with only faint dye


Why synthetics don't work with reactive dye: Left side - polyester socks; all of the pink, teal, and purple washed out during the rinse. Some light blue remnants stayed even after the washing machine. On right - nylon capri tights with a small amount of spandex. These are actually kind of cool. The dye is just much lighter, and even was when I originally applied the dye.

Why synthetics don’t work with reactive dye: Left side – polyester socks; all of the pink, teal, and purple washed out during the rinse. Some light blue remnants stayed even after the washing machine.
On right – nylon capri tights with a small amount of spandex. These are actually kind of cool. The dye is just much lighter, and even was when I originally applied the dye.


So that’s it! Now you can tie-dye! 🙂

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2 responses

1 07 2013
tie dye

Thanks for a marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.
I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will often come back down the road.
I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice evening!

15 11 2013
blaine

thanks, trying my first tie dye 2nite.awesome post

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