How To Tie Dye T Shirts

Tie dye t shirts have recently come back into style, with many high street stores selling their own range of tie dyed clothing. But the real appeal of Tie Dyeing is in its DIY nature, which has made them very popular with hipsters and young festival goers. Tie dye shirts are cheap and easy to make at home and offer a lot of customisation with all the different colours and patterns you can use. Not only that, but they can look really cool as part of any casual fashion style.

And so, because of the great revival of tie dyeing, we’ve decided to make this useful guide on how to tie dye t shirts. With these tips and tricks you’ll soon have a whole wardrobe of awesome tie dye clothing!

Tie Dye Shirts Are Back!

Tie Dye Shirts Are Back!

What You Need:

  • Plain White T Shirt
  • Large Rubber Bands
  • Colour Dyes
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Soda Ash
  • Large Bowl

Step 1: Choose Your Pattern

Before even starting to dye your shirts, you need to decide what kind of tie dye effect you want to achieve. There are many different patterns you can go for, including stripes, spots and spirals, but if you’re clever you can create some really amazing designs. But we shall start with the simple ones first and work towards the more complicated effects.


Stripes are by far one of the easiest pattern to create and a great place to start for newbie tie dyers. For horizontal stripes, lay your white t shirt out flat and roll it up from top to bottom into a tube shape. Next, wrap rubber bands around the shirt, using the same amount as stripes you require, making sure to space them out so your stripes aren’t too close to each other. For horizontal stripes, roll the t shirt form left to right instead of bottom to top and wrap your rubber bands in the same way.


Spirals are a little more complicated than stripes, but still simple to make once you know how. To create the spiral effect, lay your shirt flat and then grab a section of the shirt with your thumb and finger and begin twisting to make the shirt roll into a spiral shape. Make sure not to fold the shirt over and keep twisting until the whole shirt is spiraled from the central point where your thumb and finger are. Then once ready, tie six rubber bands around the whole of the shirt, spacing them out and making sure they all crossover each other at the centre of the spiral. Your bands should create a pie with slices effect – you can also add more bands or spirals using the same method.

Spots & Rosettes

This effect is also very simple to make and has great results. To create spots, simply grab little sections of the t shirt and pull them up into a little folded napkin effect and pin them in place with a rubber band. Raise more or less fabric to create different size spots and use as many as you like. A rosette print is done in a similar method, although two separate raised sections should be brought together and tied with a rubber band.

Messy Pattern

If you don’t care what the results might be, just crumple your shirt up any way you feel and tie it up with bands in a similar manner to the spiral method. Anything could happen but the results will always be exciting with this style.

Lightning Bolt

This is by far the trickiest to do, but can have the most awesome looking result with a lightning bolt pattern. Start by folding your shirt in half vertically and then back and forth from chest level, creating ‘N’ shape folds. Keep folding until you have several layered folds and then mark a diagonal line in pen from the shoulder to the bottom of the folded shirt. Using the line as a guide, accordion fold the shirt towards the centre from each side and then strap the shirt with bands, using more or less depending on the intensity of the effect.

Step 2: Dye Your Shirt

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The Colorful Potential Of Tie Dying Is Huge!

Before preparing to dye your shirts, first allow the shirt to soak in warm water or a soda ash solution for 20 minutes. This will help the dye bond with the fabric without it running too much. Next, prepare your dye. Dye is easy to get ready, as instructions will come with whichever you buy, but if you want to control the intensity of the colour, add more water to dilute the solution for a softer effect.

Once your shirt is sufficiently soaked, you can apply your dye in two different ways. You can dip your shirt into the dye or do it in a more controlled manner by using a squirt bottle. Mix and match colours as you see fit, but make sure to use lighter shades first. The dye will run more if the shirt is damp or wet, so if you want the colours to not mix too much, do it when the shirt is dry. Use your rubber bands as markers for coloured patterns.

Step 3: The Finishing Touches

Once all your dye is applied and you have the colours you want, leave the shirt wrapped up in its bands still and leave to dry for between 4 and 6 hours. Once dry, remove the bands and rinse out any remaining dye in cold water and then put the shirt in the washing machine and give it a cold wash. Once clean you’ll have your own perfect tie dye t shirt, ready to wear right away and show off to all your friends!

Remember! When tie dyeing, make sure to always use rubber gloves and protect any surfaces and clothing from dye. Parental supervision is advised.

So now you know how, there’s nothing stopping you from experimenting with and creating your own tie dye t shirts. Tie dye shirts look great and have an awesome retro style that’s completely authentic if homemade. So get dyeing and lets see all those awesome creations you’ve created!

Written by chris

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