How to: Tie Dye Patterns

by Trish Jackson

Folding and practice are the keys to achieving the patterns you want when tie-dying. Once tied, pre-soak the fabric in soda ash to make the dye stick. Wring out, then totally immerse the fabric in the dye or you can apply different colors to different areas directly from the squeeze bottle. Natural fibers like cotton, rayon, hemp and linen work best. Polycrylic fabrics do not easily absorb the dye, and silk and wool may stretch or change shape. String or rubber bands are equally effective for tying.

Step 1

Twist the fabric from both ends into a like you are wringing it out, or roll it into a tube. Tie strings around the fabric at regular intervals. This is called the "knot-tying" method and, when you dye the fabric, the string prevents the dye from penetrating the tied areas, which creates lines. You can immerse the entire garment in the dye or squirt different colors between each knot to make multi-colored stripes. The stripes can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal depending on how you roll the garment.

Step 2

Fold the fabric into pleats. The pleats can all be the same size or you can vary the size and fold them over. Press them down and tie. Pleat-dying creates diamonds, squares, ovals or other symmetrical designs.

Step 3

Hold your thumb in what you want to be the center of the pattern. Fold the material in pleats around your thumb in a corkscrew, flattening each pleat all the way to the edge of the garment. Tie around the garment taking care not to disturb the pleats. Dip the entire garment into the dye or apply multiple colors with the dye bottles. This creates spiral patterns.

Step 4

Gather portions of the fabric into bunches, scrunch them up and tie in a ball. Dip the entire garment into the dye. The pattern produced looks like lightning.

Step 5

Make rosettes. Mark the points where you want the rosette centers to be, then pull up the fabric around each dot and bind tightly into a long finger-like protrusion. Dip each one into the dye or squeeze different colors around the "fingers." You can also draw your own design with a marker first to show you where to fold. Practice and experiment; there is no limit to the variations you can achieve.

Photo Credits

  • Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media

About the Author

Trish Jackson is an author, blogger and freelance writer. Her second romantic suspense novel, "Redneck P.I.," was released in March 2011. Jackson particularly likes to write articles relating to life in the country, animals and home projects and has kept a blog focusing on this since 2006.