Tie Dye Tips & Tricks

Summertime is a wonderful time of year. The weather is warmer. The days are longer. Butterflies during the day. Fireflies at night. Pool during the week. Beach on the weekends. School’s out. Vacation’s on. Sound familiar?

You know what else sounds very similar about summer? Tie Dye.

I. Love. Tie Dye.

How to Prep

Proper preparation for all tie dyeing will include rubber gloves & ground cover. Many tie dyeing patterns will require extra things like rubber bands, paint brushes, additional water, maybe glue, maybe even more. Just be sure to remember the intent is for the dye to last forever, so protect anything that isn’t getting a makeover. My advice is dyeing on the lawn or sidewalk. It makes for simpler clean up.

How to Tie

Rubber bands are synonymous with tie dye, but aren’t required to get a good result. The “crumple method” & “folding technique,” for example, require no rubber bands at all. For other patterns like “the spiral,” “the bullseye,” “the sunburst,” & stripes, rubber bands give you control over the design. & For tie dye using “string technique” and “shibori technique” require a couple of unconventional tools for some really cool results.

How to Dye

Dyeing depends on the tie, but also the dye. I’ve come to find that Tulip is my favorite dye. The company’s website (as you’ve already seen) is also the perfect reference guide for any level of tie dyer.

How to be Extra

Writing with Glue gives you the ability to block the dye from certain spots, allowing you to preserve existing design, draw new designs & write words. If using washable glue, make your pattern, press the glue into the fabric & let dry completely, tie dye as usual & wash until the glue fully dissolves. If using hot glue, make your pattern, do not push the glue into the fabric (but make sure there’s good contact) & let dry completely, tie dye as usual & let dry completely, peel back hot glue before washing (excess may come off in the wash). When using glue, make sure you separate the two sides of the textile, if applicable (shirts, pillowcases, etc).

Acrylic paint also allows you to draw & write on fabric but without washing away. Use before tie dyeing, like with glue. Or use after tie dyeing & washing to accentuate your designs.

Glow in the Dark & Glitter dyes do exist but I haven’t personally tried them yet. So, stay tuned for that post.

Stamps, Patches & Embroidery can be initial or final touches that can tie together any dye job. Stamps can be pre-made or homemade. You can use leftover dye, acrylic paint, or even permanent ink, depending on the aesthetic.

How to Reverse Tie Dye

Also known as bleach tie dyeing, this technique works best for colored shirts. Prep is the same, except use a 1:1 water : bleach solution instead of dye. Wait at least 1 hour, but no longer than 24 (to preserve the integrity of the textile) before washing. This can either be the only step, or you can tie dye as usual after.

How to Wash

This may sound silly, but it’s important to remember freshly dyed textiles, even if they’ve been rinsed “clean,” should not be washed with other laundry the first time around. In my experience (with Tulip dyes at least), after one good wash, the fabric is safe to wash with other laundry. However, there are a few things you can do before & during the initial wash to keep your tie dye looking great.


Check out my tie dye creations on my Instagram @neatnmessy