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Tie Dye Techniques

Tie dye techniques are excellent methods to rejuvenate your unloved or old clothes and give them a new lease of life. Read to know all about them.
Omkar Phatak
Tie dye gives you an opportunity to easily brighten up your wardrobe and experiment with colors and fabrics on your own.

What are Tie Dye Techniques?

These techniques and designs fall under the category of resist dyeing methods. They involve creation of unique design patterns through resisting or controlling the spread of dye over a textile fabric. The spread of the dye is controlled by manipulating the cloth fabric through folding and tying.
This creates beautiful color patterns. These tie dye folding techniques are quite simple and can be used to color clothes, bedspreads or almost any natural fabric. This dyeing technique responds well to natural fabrics as they hold and absorb the dye better.
Although tie dye technique has been in use since antiquity, it was popularized in the 1960s by the hippie movement and caught on when musicians like Janis Joplin, John Sebastian, and Joe Cocker popularized it. Generally natural cotton fabrics are subjected to tie dye techniques and light colored ones are preferred as they provide excellent contrast.

Choice of Dye

Many different types of dyes are available for use in this tie dye technique. The most preferred ones are the Procion MX fiber dyes.
These reactive dyes particularly bind well with natural cellulose based fabrics and silk. For the binding to go well, the pH needs to be raised which is achieved by addition of sodium carbonate.

Generic Procedure

The tie dyeing techniques mostly vary according to the type of dye used and the folding or knotting techniques used. There are two types of dyes used in this method. One type of dye is sold as a powder which needs to be mixed in water for use, while the other type is liquid which can be directly used.
The liquid dyes are more expensive than the powder dyes. Choose the dye according to your budget and the type of colors you want to use.
Here is a procedure for implementing these techniques and designs which is common, irrespective of the type of dye used. One common technique used is squeeze bottle dyeing.
Here are the things you'll need :
  • Fabrics or clothes to be dyed
  • Sodium bicarbonate (soda Ash) & salt
  • Special dye in various colors(Powder or Liquid)
  • Squeeze bottles / Bowls
  • Gloves
  • Rubber bands
  • Water bucket
Read the manufacturer's instructions. Most types of dyes will have to be mixed with hot water, salt and soda ash before use. After subjecting the dyes to the recommended treatment, store them separately in different squeeze bottles or bowls. You may have to wet the clothes before you can apply dyes.
Once the dyes are ready for application, you can begin with folding and tying the clothes. There are ways in which you can fold and knot the clothes to create design patterns.
Twist and knot the fabric and apply rubber bands at various lengths to make sure the folds stay in place. You can experiment with various kinds of folds and knots on each fabric.
Then either apply the various dyes on different parts of a fabric using squeeze bottles or dip select parts in a bowl filled with dye liquid. Let the dye soak into the fabric properly. Use colors according to the color of the fabric. Once the dye has soaked in, wring the cloth to get rid of excess dye which hasn't bonded.
Then seal the fabric inside a plastic bag and let it dry out. Ideally they should be allowed to be dyed for a day. After the clothes have dried enough, rinse them with warm water keeping the rubber bands tied in place.
Then again give it a cold water treatment after removing the rubber bands. With that, most of the excess non-bonded dye will be removed. Let the clothes dry for a day after which they will be ready for use.
To get different kinds of tie dye patterns, you need to improvise on the knotting, tying, and folding techniques, which can be developed through experimentation and practice!