DIY Tie-Dye T-Shirts

Tie-Dye T-shirts are so much fun. You’re never too old to tie-dye something!

Materials & Supplies

– Damp White Shirts (cotton is best)
– Elastics
– Fabric Dye
– Disposable Gloves
– Garbage Bag
– Plastic Wrap


Tie-dye started getting really popular in the mid 1960s. It’s name is pretty straight forward. The clothes were “tied” up with string (or now rubber bands) and then “dyed” with fabric dye. So while this is a super easy project for kids, it’s great for adults too!

For this particular project I used the Tulip brand fabric dye. I think this is the most commonly used brand. I mean look at that pretty packaging! Okay, getting off topic here. 
Next you’ll want to gather a few white shirts (or other things – trust me, once you start you’ll be looking around for other things to dye). I find that the cotton shirts work the best. They hold the color better and are more vibrant.

There are different techniques used to achieve different results. You can start with a dry shirt and add dye. You can have your shirt more damp. You can add ice cubes and then dye. Never the less it will turn out amazing. I don’t think there is a “wrong” way of tie-dying.

I like to start with a damp shirt because then it already has some water in it and helps the dye to distribute better. I also find this method helps stretch the dye further because you’ll need less of it.

Then there are the tying techniques. While I personally prefer the original spiral there are many ways to tie the shirt.
The spiral is made by pinching the shirt and twisting. You can add all the colors of the rainbow or just one color for a more subtle spiral.
Stripes are pretty straight foreward as well. The shirt will look like a long snake with elastics, then just add your preffered colors. Mine was the rainbow!
The sunburst (or what I call the “nubby”) is taking sections and tying them into balls.
Bulls eye is created almost like the sunburst but you start with one general “ball” and then keep adding more elastics as you move away from the center.
You can also create shapes. Imagine yourself an invisible line (or use washable markers to draw lines) then just gather the shirt along those lines and elastic. This one I made into a heart by folding the shirt in half first.
The crumple is pretty self explanatory. Just crumple the shirt into a ball and tie up. Give a more “cloudy” appearance. I never got to make that one so I don’t have any pictures to share.
Once you have your shirts tied up the way you like it’s time to get messy! So wear those gloves. Add your favorite colors in any way you like. You can use as many or as little colors as you see fit. Flip it over and repeat on the back. For some I even added black to the back of the shirts. Then you want to wrap each shirt in some plastic wrap. After you are all done creating let them sit over night. The longer you let them sit the more vibrant the colors will be.
The next day you want to rinse each one separately. Also recommended to wear gloves again. Then just keep rinsing and wringing the fabric until the water is pretty clear. Then you get to remove the elastics and find out what design you got. This is the best part I must say. Even the so called “boring” ones look amazing! Then just rinse a bit more until the water comes out clear.
Once you have rinsed all your shirts you’re going to run them through the washing machine.

Beautiful. Just beautiful. You’ll find it hard not to look at every piece of fabric in your house and wonder what it would look like with a tie-dye design on it.

Here are a few examples of what the traditional spiral looks like.
Here are the two I made inot stripes. One up and down and the other a diagonal.
There are tonnes of possibilities when it comes to shapes. You can even hand stitch (sew) with thread along the shape line.
The sunburst (nubby) takes a bit more time but I think it’s totally worth it in the end.
The “x” and diamond are very similar in design.
Show/Hide Comments (0 comments)


Submit a Comment