Summer Fashion: How to Tie Dye

Learn how to tie dye tops and get the boho-chic look on the cheap.

April 20, 2020

Warm weather and tie dyed tops just seem to go together. I can’t believe how easy it is to tie dye! And so cheap!

Learn how to make fantastic boho chic tie dye clothing, cheap!

On a scale of one to five, one being totally doable and five being not-so-much, I give this project a one — as long as you have the supplies to ensure you don’t make a total mess. Check out our steps below to tie dye your own shirt!

Gather Your Supplies

I found some cute white racerback tank tops for $8 at Target and you can find Rit Dye for about $2 at the grocery store or craft store.

Obtain your tie dye supplies, including rubber bands and dye.

Set Up a Work Station

This is a messy project. If you don’t have a utility sink and are doing this in your kitchen, cover your countertops and floors. You can also try this project outdoors.

Plan Your Pattern or Try to Have a Strategy

Have an idea of what kind of pattern or colors you want to use before you dye something. Rit has great examples of tie dye designs. Or don’t plan anything and just go crazy. Sometimes those turn out the best. But sometimes they look heinous, so if you’re starting out, don’t use anything expensive.

Plan your pattern, or try to have a tie dye strategy.

Make the Dye

If you’re using a store-bought boxed dye like Rit, follow the instructions and make the dye in a large plastic tub inside your sink. Trust me. You do not want to move dyed stuff from a tub to the sink to wring it out. It’s much cleaner if you keep it in the sink.

Rubber-band Your Shirt

Before you dye your shirt, wrap rubber bands very tightly around various parts of the fabric. You can bunch up or fold parts of the fabric and then rubber band areas or even tie knots in the fabric and rubber band it. Remember: Whatever areas you rubber band or knot will not be dyed.

Wrap rubber bands around your clothing before you begin dyeing.

Dye It

Submerge your fabric with rubber bands into the dye. Review the instructions for your specific dye, but you’ll probably want to hold it for about 5 minutes. Note: You’ll probably want to wear plastic gloves while dyeing — unless you want to have purple hands for a day. (Speaking from experience.)

Submerge your fabric into the dye.

Squeeze Out Any Excess Dye

Remove the fabric from the plastic tub and wring out remaining dye. Again — gloves, people. That was my rookie mistake. (And even after the dye fades from your skin, it stays in your cuticles for a week.)

Squeeze out any excess dye. Be sure to wear gloves!

Rinse It

Hold the fabric under cold running water until the water from the fabric rinses out clear. Repeat steps 4-8 for additional colors but always rinse completely before moving on to a new color.

Rinse the fabric under cold running water until the rinse turns clear.

Wring It Out

Remove the rubber bands and check out your design. Hang to dry.

Remove the rubber bands, check out your design, and hang to dry.

Set Dye

You don’t have to do this, but setting the dye helps the fabric retain the color so it won’t fade so much when you wash it. Fill your sink with a couple of inches of cold water. Mix equal parts salt and vinegar and pour into the sink. Submerge your dyed fabric into the water and let soak for an hour. Rinse with cold water.

Wash It

Hand wash with mild detergent or toss in the washing machine alone just in case the color bleeds in the wash. Hang to dry.

Wash the tie-dyed fabric with mild detergent, then hang it out to dry.

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3 Tie-Dye Techniques from Marianne
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