Dotty Tips: How to Tie Dye at Home
Here at Dotty, we love any excuse to get creative especially if we can get our little ones involved too! Inspired by our new Tie Dye collection for Spring/Summer we thought we would learn how to tie dye at home. So here’s our quick guide on how to tie dye at home with the help of Tie Dye expert Sarah Stearns who really knows her stuff about all things crafty!
Did you know that tie dye fashion actually became popular in the 1960s and 70s as a defiance to authority as part of an anti-war movement? According to art blog Chandye, this period created a demand for bright, flashy, and extravagant clothing and so the fashion trend of tie dye was born!
Okay, so back to Sarah, with our masterclass on how to tie dye at home!
Firstly choose the garment you wish to dye. You can dye anything from socks, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and even shoes! Although Sarah recommends dying items which are made from 100% natural fibres such as cotton, silk, or rayon. Watch out for polyester blends where the colour won’t take as well if you are hoping for some nice bright colours!
Our Jack Tees are perfect for tie dye since they are made from 100% cotton.
Once you’ve chosen your garment/s make sure to wash it first with laundry detergent, even if it’s brand new from a shop. There may be oil traces and chemicals that you are not aware of which can affect the dying process.
Set up your work area
To tie dye at home, next you need to decide where you are going to create your masterpieces! Sarah recommends setting up a work space outside if possible as it can get quite messy.
Remember that time you thought it would be a good idea to dye your hair red at home and it looked like a crime scene by the time you had finished in the bathroom! So an outdoors workspace is ideal.
If you are working indoors, make sure to protect all nearby surfaces with a plastic cover, and Sarah recommends having some paper towels or rags nearby in case of any spillages.
You will need plastic buckets/containers, string and/or rubber bands (for tying), somewhere to hang your creation to dry, gloves, and your dye/s of choice.
Choosing your dyes
The easiest option to tie dye at home is to use a one-step dye, this means you simply add water to the dye and you are good to go. According to Treasurie blog Tulip One-Step are a good brand for easy tie dye at home.
You can also buy tie dye starter kits which have a range of different colours in small amounts if you want to go for a multi-coloured look.
Just remember to have enough plastic buckets/containers for each colour to dip your garment in.
Preparing your clothes
The next step to tie dye at home is to prepare your garments. This is definitely the fun bit! You can be as creative as you want. Tie your garment in lots of different ways and you will have some amazing patterns. Make sure to tie tightly so the dye cannot get through to that part.
Tie dye works by having parts of your garment which do not absorb the dye, creating patterns with the white and colour contrast. So the tighter you tie, and the more parts you tie, the more white patterns you will have. It is very much a trial and error process!
Rubber bands work really well to create the infamous rings you often see on tie dye fashion.
Treasurie suggests using marbles to create a cool effect. We have experimented with wooden pegs which can also be very effective to create little white squares within your pattern. Treasurie actually have loads of pattern ideas for how to create your favourite tie dye shapes so definitely take a look at that if you need some inspiration!
The tie dye process
Now you have tied your garment up in lots of different ways you are ready to start the tie dye itself!
Mix up your chosen colours. These can be done in individual buckets that the garment can be dipped in. Or Sarah suggests applying the dye directly to the garment with squeezy bottles, paintbrushes, or sponges. This can create more detail with different colours.
We used to simply dip parts of our t-shirt in different buckets to create a tonal effect where the colours run together at points.
Another fun technique is to create an ombre look using just one colour. Dipping the top or bottom of the garment in the dye and hanging it to dry upside down so the dye naturally runs down creating a dark to light effect.
According to Sarah Stearns, to change the vibrancy of the colour, simply change the water to dye ratio when mixing your dyes. For pastel colours, simply add more water to the dye, this will create a softer palette.
Sarah also advises to think about colour placement. Opposing colours on the colour wheel will create new colours, such as yellow and red creating orange, or green next to blue will create teal. Watch out for complementary colours when placed next to each other which can create that muddy brown colour. You’ll be all ready for that festival but not in a good way! Colours such as red-green, or yellow-purple can be such culprits.
Setting the dye
The final step in creating your own tie dye pieces at home is to let the dye react with the fabric. For brighter colours, you can let your dye set for 24 hours. If you (or your little one!) doesn’t have that much patience, you can let your dye set for 6-8 hours for the best effect.
According to Sarah, it’s important to keep the fabric warm and damp so wrapping in a plastic bag and hanging to dry in a sunny spot is best. “The warmer the temperature of the fabric, the quicker the dye reaction.” Sarah at Sarah Maker blog.
Rinse, wash and repeat!
Now you are ready to unveil your beautiful, tie dye creations!
Sarah advises that this is actually the most important step in the whole process to create clean, and clear patterns, so take your time here.
Firstly leave all of the rubber bands and fastenings on your garment and carefully rinse in cold water. After this initial drench, you can continue to rinse in cool/lukewarm water, while you carefully remove your fastenings and ties. Continue to rinse until the water runs clear.
You can now wash as normal with laundry detergent although for the first few washes make sure to wash these separately or with similar colours in case the colour still runs.
Sarah recommends using Synthrapol detergent for the first wash which is designed for this process. She also recommends washing your new tie dye creations separately for the first few washes in case the dye runs. Then you can wash as normal with your other clothes.
Hope you found our blog on How to Tie Dye at Home helpful! Tag us on Instagram @dottydungarees with your tie dye creations. We would love to see them!
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