How to Tie-dye the Same Shirt Twice (Overdye)

Spiral tie-dye shirt being folded a second time, showing how to tie-dye multiple times.

Is it possible to tie-dye a shirt multiple times? If you’re curious about making a design that involves more than one tie-dye session, then you’re in the right place. You might be familiar with the normal process of dyeing a shirt. Being able to tie-dye the same shirt a second time would open up a whole new world of possibilities for you. The good news is that it’s totally possible. The even better news is that we’ll show you how to do it and even give you examples you can try.

It’s absolutely possible to tie-dye the same shirt twice, in fact, you can dye the same shirt as many times as you want. With this technique you can dye multiple designs on the shirts and even make designs on top of each other. The easiest way to do it is to begin by following the standard tie-dye process once. Prepare your shirt, fold it, then dye it. Once the dye has had time to set you can then rinse your shirt. Once the shirt has been rinsed and the excess dye is removed you can then begin the whole process again for a second round of tie-dye.

How to tie-dye multiple times

Now that we know it’s possible, let’s see exactly how to tie-dye a shirt more than once. We assume that you’re already familiar with the standard tie-dye process and will concentrate more on the special considerations of this particular technique. You can dye a shirt any number of times, but you need to take care not to stain it between each session for fear of ruining your project.

Start by planning out the design you want to accomplish. Let’s say you want to dye two spirals on top of one another, each one going in opposite directions. Start by tie-dyeing the first spiral. Follow all the steps of the standard tie-dye process. Take great care at the end of the process when rinsing and washing the shirt. You want to make sure that the shirt is clean and doesn’t have any leftover dye on it. Once the spiral is completed you can then begin the second spiral. Once again, follow all the standard steps. In this example we want to make two spirals going in opposite directions so don’t forget to twist the shirt in the opposite direction for the second spiral.

You don’t need to dry the shirt between each tie-dye session. Make sure that the shirt is properly cleaned after each tie-dye, you don’t want to stain your project by having leftover dye residue from the first session. It can be distracting to fold a shirt the second time since it now has a design on it. Do not let this confuse you, follow the technique with calm and confidence.

Can you dye the same area multiple times?

We now that we can dye multiple times on a shirt, but what about dyeing the same area more than once? This scenario can occur if you plan on having two designs intersecting each other. It’s totally possible to dye on top of an area that’s already colored. This is called overdyeing and is a great opportunity to mix and merge colors, but only if you do it properly.

There are special considerations to adding dye on top of a colored area. The most obvious one is that the dye colors will combine to form a mix of the two. Color theory tells us what kind of result we will have by combining certain colors. It’s important to plan out your colors in order not to end up with brown or muddied colors. You can combine up to two primary colors without problem, but be careful adding the third one as it can make your design look muted.

Can you dye over black?

You cannot dye over black directly, wether you’re trying to dye a shirt that’s already black or you plan on using black as part of your design. Since black is the darkest color, any color you add to it will only result in black. There are tricks to bypass this limitation. The most common one is to first remove some of the black using a bleaching agent.

You can’t dye over black. What you can do is to first remove the black color by using bleach or other specialized products. Keep in mind that bleaching product aren’t perfect and won’t bring back the fabric to a white color. What it can do is remove most of the color, leaving you with a rusty or slightly orange hue. After neutralizing the bleaching agent you are then free to dye over the area.

What designs can you make by tie-dyeing twice?

There’s an infinite number of designs you can create by tie-dyeing multiple times. This technique is relatively new in the tie-dye world so there’s not a lot of examples out there. We made a few patterns for you to learn and have fun with. The easiest one to start with is to create a set of two spirals that are rotating in opposite directions. This creates a very interesting effect that you should definitely try. The criss-cross and the spirograph are both great examples of this technique.

Completed tie-dye shirt made using the Criss-Cross Spirals pattern.


Completed tie-dye shirt made using the Spirograph pattern.


Completed tie-dye shirt made using the Target pattern.