History of tie-dye

History of tie-dye


A blast from the past, tie-dyeing has a long and rich history behind it.

While the dyeing of clothes is probably as old as woven fabric itself, tie-dye is a relatively new term invented in the 1960s in the United States.

Where does tie-dye come from?

Its appellation comes from a multitude of different techniques of resist-dyeing found all over the world at different periods of human history.

What is resist-dyeing?

Resist-dyeing is a specific way of dyeing fabric, in which you control the spread of the dye to create complex patterns.

A wax or a paste can be added onto the fabric to prevent the dye from coloring parts of it.

After removing the wax, you’re left with a pattern of non-dyed fibers on the fabric where the wax previously was.

What are some techniques of resist-dyeing?

Resist-dyeing techniques have been observed throughout history under many names. The most notable examples are shibori (Japan) and batik (Indonesia), but it’s also been practiced in multiple countries of the African and Asian continents.

What separates tie-dye from other resist-dyeing techniques?

Tie-dye is typically considered a form of resist-dyeing, but has defining characteristics that put it in a class of its own.

The use of deep, bright colors and audacious patterns aide in the creation of flamboyant designs that a sure to garner a lot of attention.

How can I tie-dye?

We have a guide for beginners if you want to jump straight into the action.

In a nutshell, this is how you tie-dye:

– Prepare a shirt and dyes.
– Fold the shirt
– Apply the dyes
– Set the dye
– Rinse the shirt
– Wash and dry the shirt

For complete and detailed instructions, please visit our pages on the process and the tools.

Tie-dye in modern society

You can trace back the origins of the style of patterns seen in modern tie-dyes to the 1960’s.

Aided by the hippie movement’s values and ideal, hand dyed garments carved their place into the mainstream.

As part of the counterculture that reigned at the time, tie-dye was a representation of freedom, artistic expression and a retreat from censorship and authority.

Tie-dye of tomorrow

The meaning of tie-dye is ever-evolving.

Once worn by militants of love in the fight for a better life, it now enjoys a slightly different place in society.

What was then a defiance of authority is now, simply, a celebration of life enjoyed by anyone with a taste for colors and beauty.

With this art form more popular than ever before, you can expect to see a new wave of colorful and bold attire, pushing the frontier of clothing as a form of expression even further.

There has never been a better time to be a tie-dye enthusiast.