8 Tie-Dye Patterns That You Can Make At Home (Video Tutorials)

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5th February 2021

Making tie-dye patterns is a fun and simple way to create your own clothing or to add some new life to your wardrobe. Whether you’re a tie-dye expert or a complete beginner, these video guides will help you create amazing patterns that will blow away your friends and family.

I took many years of running our screen printing company to perfect our t-shirt prints but tie-dye requires no experience at all. Each of these tie-dye projects can be done at home with just a number of cheap materials and tools—most of which you will already have!

What you will need

All of these patterns require different tying techniques, but they all use the same equipment. Before you get started, make sure you have the following supplies:

 

  • A plain white t-shirt or plain coloured fabric
  • A large plastic tub, shower or bath
  • Gloves
  • Soda ash
  • Fork or tweezers
  • Rubber bands
  • A wire rack (such as a cooling rack)
  • Washable marker (optional)

How to make tie-dye patterns

Tie-dying works by bunching up white coloured fabrics and ‘tying’ them. By adding dyes to these fabrics, you can create psychedelic designs. The iconic tie-dye look is created by making folds and creases in the fabric. By restricting where your dye can leave pigment on your fabric, the dye will only spread in very specific areas, creating beautiful, symmetrical patterns. 

Before we get into the designs, let’s take a look at the step-by-step process of tie-dying. Every tie-dye project is different, but the process is fundamentally the same. Read through how to make tie-dye patterns before you check out some of the awesome designs listed further down this page.

Preparation:

Before you do anything with your t-shirt or fabric, you’ll need to soak your chosen material in soda ash. Make a solution of warm water and soda ash, using a cup of soda ash per gallon of water. Leave it to soak for about an hour and allow it to dry until it is barely damp.

Step 1 – Bundle & Fold Your Fabric

The way you need to bundle your fabric depends on what design you are looking to create. For specific ideas on folding/bundling ideas, take a look at the methods further down on this page.

Step 2 – Tie Your Fabric

With your fabric folded all properly, take your elastic bands and stretch them around your fabric. The aim here is to maintain the shape of your bundle and prevent it from moving. Around 4 or 5 bands will do the trick.

Step 3 – Die Your Fabric

Now for the fun part! Take your dye or dyes and squirt it over specific areas depending on which pattern you’re looking to recreate.

Step 4 – Rest Your Fabric

Now you need to rest your tie-dye creation for at least 24 hours. If you remove your fabric before 24 hours, then your pigment will not be fully processed and you can potentially ruin your design. While you might want to see your artistic handiwork, the longer you wait the better! Place the dyed fabric into a container, preferably with a lid, in a warm spot that is room temperature (roughly 70 degree fahrenheit or 21 degrees celsius). Allow it to rest.

Step 5 – Rinse Your Fabric

Once your fabric has processed for at least 24 hours, you then need to rinse off any excess pigment from your fabric.
In a tub, shower or bath, take the fabric with the area that has the most white pointing upwards, so you avoid any pigment runoff going onto the white. Wash the white area with cold water and rinse it well. Squeeze any excess dye from the pigmented area of your fabric with a glove. Slowly increase the warmth of the water as you rinse. After around 5 minutes of rinsing, take off the rubber bands and unbundle your fabric. Rinse the whole fabric thoroughly now, still increasing the heat of the water. At this point you can twist and squeeze your fabric to get as much soda ash out as possible.

Step 6 – Wash Your Fabric

Create a tub of hot, bubbly water with dish soap/washing up liquid. Leave your fabric to sit in the water for about 45 minutes before coming back and replacing the contents of the tub with a new batch of bubbly water. Then, repeat for another soak for another 30-45 minutes. This process gives your tie-dye creations bolder differences between the white and dyed areas.

Step 7 – Dry Your Fabric

With your fabric thoroughly washed, it’s time to dry it out so it’s ready for use. You can either choose to let it air dry or use a dryer on a low-heat setting.

 

Here’s a tip to remember the basic process: bundle, tie, dye, dry!

 

And now for the patterns…

8 Tie Dye Patterns With Video Tutorials

Simple Scrunch Ice Tie-dye Shirt

This design is great for beginners. Simply take your shirt and make lots of scrunches all over to create lots of folds. Then hold the shape using rubber bands or string. Place the fabric in a tub and pour ice cubes over it. Depending on your chosen colour, add the different dyes on top of the ice, as well as a sprinkle of soda ash on top. Add extra ice cubes on top when finished. Allow to sit for at least 24 hours before rinsing and drying.

Rainbow Peace Symbol Shirt

This design shows off the true psychedelic and hippie roots of tie-dye clothing.

Fold your t-shirt in half, connecting one sleeve to the other. Mark the fold point if you’re using a washable marker. Maintaining the fold, find where you’d like your peace symbol to be in the centre of your shirt. Make a mark at a 60 degree angle from the central point (use a protractor to help).

Using the two marks you made as a reference, take the lower end of the shirt and fold it over to the 60 degree line to make a triangle fold. Then, take the left corner of the triangle and fold it halfway back, leaving you with a smaller triangle fold. Now fold the remaining left side of your shirt over to the right to make a symmetrical shape. Follow the video to see how you should fold the fabric in order to create the peace symbol.

Ice Dyed Scrunch Tie-dye

This design uses simple scrunches and ice for a super simple tie-dye project.

Turn your shirt inside out and begin to make random scrunches and folds in your fabric. Once the folds have been created, scrunch up the fabric slightly so you can transport it to a small container. Press the fabric down so it fits tightly in the container. 

Randomly apply your dyes in layers on your fabric. Once your dye has been applied, add an extra sprinkle of soda ash on top. Now ice cubes on top of your fabric, layering it so that it covers the fabric completely. Allow to sit for at least 24 hours.

Ocean Waves Tie-dye Shirt

Using a cylindrical object such as a rolling pin or piece of pipe, roll your shirt going from the bottom left corner to the top right. As you roll and your cylinder is covered, scrunch up the sides into the middle of the cylinder. The aim is to create as many wrinkles as you can. After repeatedly rolling and scrunching, you should be left with a tight bundle around the cylinder. Hold the shape in place.

Half & Half Ice Tie-dye

Scrunch up your fabric as shown in the video below and secure the shape with string or rubber bands. To create a 50/50 design, place your fabric on a rack inside of a large container. You want the rack to be pointing at a slight downward angle. This will let the dye run off one half, leaving the other half white (hence ‘half & half).

Then dye your fabric in your desired fashion and then a sprinkle of soda ash and some ice cubes on top of the dyed area. Leave for 24 hours and wash out.

Rainbow Arrow Tie-dye

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Fold your fabric from the bottom to the top. Visualize or draw a diagonal line across the shirt and begin to scrunch up the fabric, making lots of fan folds along the line. Secure with bands or string. Follow the video below to see how to use dyes to create the rainbow arrow effect.

Blue and White Spiral Tie-dye

This design works in the same way as the red, white and blue design above. However, you’ll want to dye your fabric in 6 sections. Each section should follow the pattern of blue, white, blue white. For a detailed explanation, check out this video.

Red, White & Blue Spiral Tie-dye

Get patriotic with this red, white and blue tie-dye design!

Turn your shirt inside out and create a spiral starting the centre with a fork. Hold the spiral in place with bands. Divide your scrunched spiral into 8 equal sections. Colour 2 adjacent areas in blue. Then colour the two spaces opposite your blue dye in with red dye. Add a small amount of water to the 4 remaining white areas. Repeat the same process for the underside.

Tips for making tie-dye shirts:

How to keep white areas white You can help to keep your pigment from bleeding onto the areas you want to be white by adding water. Take a small dye bottle and add water. When applying your dye, add water to the sections that you’d like to be white. This helps to keep your designs from bleeding.

 

How to keep your pigment from spreading – It might be tempting to pour on as much pigment as possible, but by adding too much you run the risk of the pigment not absorbing into the fibres and spreading into white areas of your fabric. The best thing to do is to cover your fabric in an even coating of dye without any excess buildup.