Audrey's Plantmania

An Annapolis gardener sharing her bounty at bargain prices

Tie Dye October 15, 2009

Filed under: Tie-Dye — annapolisplants @ 6:19 am

I’ve gotten a bit of the bug that is tie-dye-mania lately.  Here are some of my favorites, done my me and the kids.  (All of our tie-dyes were done with Procion dyes from Dharma trading, following their instructions, using only squirt bottles, no tubs.)

The flower patterns on the blue shirt and the green pants are done by pinching the fabric in concentric circles, and using 2 rubber bands.  I like to put a marble in the center, band around the marble, and then add a 2nd band about 1-2 inches away from the first.  The red shirt and onesie were done with an accordion fold, bunching up fabric with rubber bands straddling the folds about 1-2 inches apart.  The onesie had 3 rubber bands, making 2 bands.













For those who like that crazy tie-dye look, here are a few examples:















This is done by pinching the center of your spiral, and twisting.  The silk on the left in is a single spiral, the shirts each have multiple centers.  Pinch and twist, keeping the fabric as flat on the table as you can.  You’ll have to add more and more folds as the fabric bunches up.  The flatter you keep it, the more detail you’ll have.  When the fabric is all bunched up, you put rubber bands on it radially, making pie slices.  You apply the dye to these pie slices.  (Note: I moved my rubber bands off of the spiral below to show the detail, but ideally you’d like the rubber bands to criss-cross right over that spiral.)
















Another effect is the bulls-eye, or rainbow.



















A bulls-eye can also be done in only one color, with neat concentric rings.  It can also be done with different shapes, as you see on the right.  The technique is to take a washable marker, draw the shape you want, and then bunch it up so the first rubber band falls on the line you drew with the marker.  The subsequent bands just go on 1″ below the first and so on.  Another variation: If you do your rings starting on an edge, like the bottom of a shirt, you get a semi-circle, or a true rainbow shape.  One detail with this style of tying is to make sure you squirt plenty of dye, especially checking in the folds.  The shirt on the right could have used more — this is the pattern where the folds tend to stay the whitest.

Some people like to have some white in their tie-dyes, but I like the colors to be nearly saturating the cloth, with just tiny bits of white.  Three ways to increase color saturation are to keep the rubber bands less tight, to allow dye penetration, squirt plenty of dye including into the folds, and finally, squishing the dyed clothing to push the dyes around into unsaturated areas.

Folding your fabrics is 90% of the work of tie-dye, and it’s much less chaotic if it’s done before the big messy day.  I find that writing little notes to myself (“brown with red and orange, Mom’s t-shirt”) is absolutely necessary, but that’s also because when I get the dye out I like to do a lot of items.

There are some other great tie-dye resources on-line.  Here’s one with great pictures:

Have fun, and don’t forget to dress the kids in black for the dyeing!