Tie-dye is an easy, fun way to add a splash of color to your wardrobe. All you need are a few readily available materials and creative imagination. If you’re new to the world of tie-dye, don’t worry. It’s actually easier than it looks.
Nowadays, tie-dye is more popular than ever before, and you can find it everywhere – from clothing to accessories, bags to shoes, and even decorative pillows for your home. Tie-dye is one of the easiest ways to make something old look new again!
You usually see tie-dye shirts in fun swirly patterns, but you can make patterns very intentionally by folding your shirt in different ways while tie-dyeing.
Stripe-dyeing is easy, too – once you get started, you’ll be amazed by how quickly your shirt turns into a totally unique piece of apparel.
So how do you do striped tie-dye? Folding is the key step when doing striped tie-dye. You will also need rubber bands to secure the folds in place.
In this tutorial, let’s learn all about how to make a tie-dyed shirt with stripes.
How To Do Striped Tie Dye
You will need:
- Fiber-reactive dye in a color of your choice
- Rubber bands
- Soda ash
- Zip loc bag
- A plain T-shirt (white or color)
Once you have prepared adequate space to work, let’s get to dyeing.
1. Pre-Soak Your Shirt In Soda Ash
Soda ash is often used with dye to produce brighter and more vivid colors. This chemical doesn’t remove the pigments from the fibers and doesn’t stain them but can make the dye perform better.
You can prepare the soda ash solution by mixing one cup of soda ash with a gallon of water, then soak your T-shirt in this solution for about 15 minutes. Make sure to use gloves in this step because this solution can be quite damaging to your skin.
Then, squeeze out the excess liquid, and you can apply dye right away on the damp shirt.
Making a striped pattern is all about how you fold the shirt in this step. The rubber bands that are secured around the T-shirt will create stripe patterns.
If you want to make vertical stripes, fold your shirt from the bottom to the top like you would fold a paper fan. The folded edges are the areas where you see the colors mixing a little bit, so you can decide how big or small the width of the fold needs to be.
If you want to make horizontal stripes, you can fold the shirt from one side to the other. If you want to make diagonal stripes, you can fold the shirt diagonally to create this pattern.
3. Tie The Shirt
With your rubber bands, tie them around the folded shirt. The width of the stripes will determine the distance between the rubber bands – if you want more stripes, use more rubber bands; if you want fewer stripes, use fewer rubber bands.
With the colors of your choice in a convenient squeeze bottle, you can apply the dye to your shirt.
Remember that the stripes are separated by the rubber bands, so you can use a different color for each stripe or use all the same color for the entire piece.
Make sure to apply the dye thoroughly so that it can get into all the folded areas as well. Otherwise, those areas won’t be colored properly.
5. Seal It
Do not remove the rubber bands; place your shirt into a Ziploc bag and seal it so that the moisture cannot escape and the shirt will not dry completely.
Leave the shirt alone for 24 – 48 hours so that the dye can be set. After this time, remove the shirt from the bag, remove all the rubber bands, and rinse it with warm water to remove the excess dye until the water runs clear.
7. Wash It
Wash the shirt in your washing machine. Make sure to wash your tie-dye separately because there’s a chance that the dye will bleed on your other clothes.
After washing and drying, you should have a new striped tie-dye shirt for your collection!
How To Striped Tie Dye With Reverse Dyeing
What if you want to tie-dye piece of dark clothing – say, a black T-shirt? Usually, colored dye won’t show up very well on a dark background. However, there’s still a way to tie-dye with black clothing using bleach, which is known as reverse dyeing.
Using bleach can be intimidating, especially since it is a very strong chemical. Bleach can burn your skin, so you should always use gloves and wear protective clothing when working with bleach. You should also work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes.
You should also know that bleach does not work on synthetic or protein-based fibers such as polyester or wool. It can quickly damage these fabrics and poke holes in them. Cotton, linen, and other plant-based fibers work best with bleach.
You can buy household bleach with a low percentage of sodium hypochlorite, a bleaching agent. Bleach is very effective, so you should always opt for either 3% or 4.5% sodium hypochlorite. For some delicate fabrics, it’s recommended to dilute the bleach even more to prevent any damage.
When working with bleach, it’s very important that you understand that this is a harsh chemical that works quickly and has a chance of damaging the delicate fabric, so we recommend working in a very controlled manner.
Even when working with a resilient fabric like cotton, you should still take proper precautions so that the final results will be exactly how you want them.
If your skin comes into contact with bleach, it’s important to wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. You should keep bleach away from your eyes and keep it away from pets or children.
How To Stripe Tie-Dye With Bleach
To reverse dye with bleach, you will need:
- A dark cotton t-shirt (or other plant-based fibers)
- Rubber bands
- Hydrogen peroxide
- A Ziploc bag
- Fabric dye (optional)
Soak your T-shirt in warm water for about five minutes. This step will help to relax the fibers and make them more susceptible to bleach.
After five minutes, remove the shirt and squeeze out the excess water.
2. Dilute Your Bleach
Dilute the bleach in the water to create a weak bleach solution. You don’t want to damage your fabric, so keeping the bleach as weak as possible will help you control the color removal effects.
Usually, the ratio is one part bleach, two – three parts water. Then, you can transfer the bleach solution to a squeeze bottle for easier application. Make sure to use a bottle that’s safe to use with bleach because bleach can burn through a bottle that’s not designed to handle it.
This step is the same as the folding step in regular tie-dye, so if you want a stripe pattern, you can fold it similarly to the instructions above.
For vertical stripes, fold your shirt horizontally like how you would fold a paper fan. Alternatively, if you don’t want the stripes to be very pronounced, you can scrunch up the shirt horizontally to create a series of vertical stripes that are a bit more random.
For horizontal stripes, fold your shirt vertically from one sleeve to another.
However, with reverse tie-dye, it’s important to know that the colors will be reversed, which means that the rubber-banded areas will retain the colors, and the fabric areas that the rubber bands don’t touch will be bleached.
So, you can adjust how to apply the rubber bands to get the effects that you want.
4. Apply The Bleach
Apply the bleach to the areas that you want to bleach.
This is the part that’s the most different from regular tie-dyeing since you don’t want the bleach to get all over your T-shirt. Instead, apply the bleach in a controlled manner and let the solution spread naturally, and you’ll have a fun tie-dye pattern that is the result of the bleach solution.
Wait for about 15 minutes so that the bleach can its job. Bleach works fairly quickly, so when you see the desired color, it’s time to rinse it out.
It’s very important to watch the fabric in this process because if you leave the bleach in for too long, the fabric can be damaged. Then, remove the rubber bands and rinse the shirt out thoroughly with warm water.
6. Neutralize The Bleach
Although it’s not necessary, it is important to add a neutralizing solution to the fabric in order to prevent the bleach from going overboard. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using hydrogen peroxide. You can buy 3% hydrogen peroxide in many drug stores.
This step will stop the bleach from working and keep the bleaching effect to where you want it. Without this step, the bleach can still linger on the fabric and damage it.
You can pour the hydrogen peroxide over the bleached area, and it can immediately neutralize the bleach.
Do not substitute hydrogen peroxide for any other chemical, as it can cause adverse reactions and damage your fabric and even create toxic fumes.
Then, rinse the shirt.
7. Add Color (Optional)
You can stop at just bleaching the shirt, but if you want to add some colors to the bleached area for a unique touch, you can do so as well.
You don’t have to be too meticulous in this step because the colors will show up in the bleached area and not in the black fabric, so don’t worry too much about making a mess.
You can re-do the rubber bands again to create the striped effects with the colors, or apply the dye over the bleached area straightaway without the rubber bands too.
Because you are applying colors in this step, it’s important to get into all the folded crevices so that the colors can take effect.
Then, leave the shirt in a Ziploc bag for about 24 – 48 hours to allow the colors to settle.
Remove your shirt from the Ziploc bag and remove the rubber bands (if needed); rinse out the shirt thoroughly until your water runs clear.
Then, you can pop your new reverse tie-dye T-shirt in a wash cycle (separately from your other clothes), and after drying, you should have a cool new striped reverse tie-dye T-shirt!
While tie-dyeing is very simple to do at home, there are still some simple tips that you should follow to produce a successful result.
Before you actually start to do any Tie Dye, it is important that you pre-wash your fabric. Pre-washing gets rid of any shrinkage and dirt that may be on your fabric before you begin your project.
Some fibers, especially natural fibers like cotton, are very prone to shrink, so pre-washing is quite essential to make sure that the size remains the same and your pattern will look just how you like it after dyeing.
If your fabric is dirty, it won’t take dye very well, so this step will help with the dye’s performance too.
2. Fabric Choice
Not all fabrics are the same! Cotton T-shirts are very straightforward because they can take bleach and fiber-reactive dye very well. Other plant-based fibers like linen can work well too.
However, if your shirt is made from polyester or other synthetic material, you will have to work with a synthetic dye. Most synthetic dyes require heat setting, so tie-dyeing may not be the right approach.
To make sure that your tie-dye project turns out exactly how you like it, you should take a look at the shirt’s fiber content to see if it’s cotton or other natural fibers. If it has more than 35% synthetic fiber, then it’s probably best to avoid tie-dyeing.
3. Dye Choice
Most tie-dye kits will come with all-purpose fabric dye and specific instructions for how to get the best result from your dye.
However, if you are assembling your own colors, it’s best to take a look at your fabric and the specific dye that will work well with your fabric and whether it demands a method that can work well for tie-dyeing.
The reason why the polyester fabric is very difficult to tie-dye is that polyester and other synthetic fabric only works with disperse dye, which needs to be set in a hot water bath. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to tie-dye in this case.
As mentioned, it’s safest to go with natural fiber and work with a fiber-reactive dye, which will produce vibrant, colorfast results.
4. Secure The Rubber Bands
We cannot stress this enough, but how your rubber bands are positioned and how secure they are can really affect how your final result will look.
This is an issue, especially when you and your child are tie-dyeing something together. Children may need some extra help with securing the rubber bands. The bands should be taut so that they can hold the fabric together and create the signature tie-dye look.
If the bands are not secure, the dye may bleed all over one another, and the result may not be what you expect.
5, Dampen Your Fabric Before Dyeing
Damp fabric will absorb the dye more easily than dry fabric.
Before you start dyeing, make sure to dampen your fabric. To achieve this, either soak the piece of fabric in water or dampen it with a spray bottle filled with water. This will help the dye stick better to the material, creating better, more even results.
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