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Could You Tie Dye Pants at Home?

by Erica Loop

Whether you enjoy a patterned print or going for that 1960s hippie look, tie dyeing your clothes offers an at-home alternative to a boring solid color. While you can certainly go out and spend extra cash for pre-dyed pants, you can also craft your own unique creation at home for less money. Instead of paying extra for someone else's design, come up with your own idea and start the coloring process yourself.

Preparation at Home

Before you even consider tie dyeing your pants at home, you'll need to prepare the area. Unless you want to suffer the consequences of accidental spills and splashes on your floor, furniture or the clothes that you are wearing, a prep session can minimize the mess risks. Choose an area inside or outside of your house that is easy to clean and free from any expensive or non-replaceable items. This means that you shouldn't select a space such as a living room with a white carpet. Opt for a tile or cement floor or an outdoor grassy area. Regardless of your space choice, cover the ground with a painter's tarp or a similar barrier. Gather together an apron -- or choose old, messy clothes -- and rubber gloves to protect yourself.

Materials

Tie dyeing your pants at home means that you need to have the right materials on hand prior to beginning the coloring process. Gather plastic buckets, rubber bands or string, a long-handled stirrer or stick, and the dye colors of your choice. You may also need additional materials, depending on the process that you are choosing. Some tie dyers prefer to squirt the color directly onto the fabric. If you want to try this technique, you need plastic squirt bottles that are similar to a ketchup-type of container.

Pant Types

The type of fabric that you choose makes a difference. Some dyes won't adhere to certain materials, making it almost impossible to tie dye them at home. Full-cotton fabrics as well as linen, silk, wool, rayon and nylon will typically hold the dye. On the other hand, 100 percent polyesters, acrylics and spandex materials are less likely to keep the dye color. If you have the choice between dyeing your cotton sweatpants and spandex work out duds, go for the cotton option. Additionally, consider the base color. White and light colored fabrics are easier to dye, and show off the color better, than dark shades and denims.

Process

Although tie dyeing your pants at home is often messy, it isn't a difficult process. Before you dye any garment, wash and dry them first. Choose one or more colors that you like and come up with a pattern. If you fold your pants in thin, accordion-style, strips and then bind them together with a string, the resulting dye process creates stripes. Grab and pull the fabric up and tie it off with a rubber band to make a circle design. Add more bands for more, or concentric, circles. Mix an all purpose dye in the bucket with water, following the manufacturer's instructions. Make one bucket per color that you are using. Dip the pants into the dye, keeping it in the color bath for four to seven minutes for most dyes. Repeat for more colors or fill a squirt bottle with dye solution and squeeze it directly onto the pants. Let the pants sit overnight by placing them in a plastic freezer bag and remove the bands or unfold the fabric in the morning. Rinse the pants in cool water and wash with a mild detergent to complete the process.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images