Our easy guide to tie dye!

Keep yourself and the kids entertained with this easy step-by-step guide on how to tie dye your old clothing! Not only is it good for the planet to reuse and recycle, it’s a fun and inexpensive way to get creative! The Warehouse has a range of tie dye kits available for delivery during level 4, so jump on their website and check it out.

For this project, you will need:

  • fabric dye in assorted colors
  • old clothing or fabric items, like shirts, socks, or sweatshirts
  • rubber bands or strong string
  • buckets, to dip items in dye
  • plastic tablecloths or large trash bags to protect your work surface
  • gloves
  • zip-lock bags or Glad Wrap

Step 1. Prep the materials

Before you tie dye, you need to prewash the garments to remove any oils, dirt, or anything else that might be on your garment. These things can resist the dye, leading to dull or spotty results.

Next, set up your work area. If you will be dying inside, protect your table with a plastic tablecloth or large trash bags. It’s a good idea to keep some paper towels or rags nearby to clean up any spills.

Then, gather your other tools, including plastic buckets, rubber bands, string, squeeze bottles, and gloves.

Step 2: Soak your garment

Depending on what fabric dye you have, you may need to soak your garment first, and wring out any excess water. Some dyes will allow you to just add water to the dye instead, so make sure you check on that first.

Step 3. Fold and tie your garment

There are so many ways to fold and tie your fabric. Tie-dye techniques patterns range from simple to intricate. You can scrunch your garment, secure it with rubber bands, fold your garment, clamp it together, or even stitch a design into your garment with a needle and thread.

Step 4. Apply the dye

There are many ways to apply the dye to the fabric. You can dip the garment into buckets of dye. Or, you can apply the dye directly to the fabric with squeeze bottles, paintbrushes, or sponges. You can use as many or as few colours as you want.

You add to adjust the intensity of the colors by changing the dye-to-water ratio. If you want more pastel colors, you can add more water to the dye mixture.

When applying the dye, consider colour placement. Think back to art class and the concept of the color wheel. Colours placed next to each other will bleed together at the border, creating new colours. Red placed next to yellow will create orange, green placed next to blue will create teal.

Step 5. Let the dye set

Once you have finished applying the dye, you need to give it time to react with the fabric. It’s important to keep the fabric damp and relatively warm. (The warmer the temperature of the fabric, the quicker the dye reaction.)

I recommend placing the dyed fabric in a plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped fabric in a sunny spot, and let the dye process for at least 6-8 hours. For the brightest colours, you can let the dye cure for up to 24 hours.

Step 6. Rinse, wash, and wear your garment

One of the keys to getting the cleanest, brightest colours is the washing-out process. Take your time here!

First, leaving the rubber bands or ties on, rinse the garment under cold running water. Then, rinse in lukewarm water while you remove the rubber bands or ties. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear. Then, run the garments through a complete washing machine cycle.

For this first wash, you can wash multiple garments together, as long as they have been dyed with similar colours. If you wash too many colours together in the same load, the garments can come out muddy looking.

For the next couple of loads, you’ll want to wash your tie-dyed clothing separately from the rest of your clothes. Then you can wash them with the rest of your colours.



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