Jump straight in!

We’ve got you covered with these supplies.

Dyes are more accessible than ever.

Clothing is getting better quality.

We also have the fan’s favorite.

Washing soda. Old school friend who’s never left Dye’s side.


1) Dye

We use Procion MX dyes for tie-dyeing.
They are the most affordable and most renowned dyes in the fiber-reactive class.

Fiber reactive dyes are perfect for the purpose of tie-dyeing.
They come in many different colors and have interesting properties :

– Permanent. They attach very strongly to the fibers, and cannot be removed by washing.

– Cold water. They can be used at room temperature, no need to heat them like the other types of dyes.

– Safe

– Accessible and affordable

2) Fabric

Cotton is the favored type of fabric.

You can dye any shape or size of fabric. The most common item to dye is a shirt. Other items include tapestries, socks, hoodies.

The construction of the fabric makes a big difference in the final result.

There’s nothing better than taking a high quality, comfortable, and well-fitting garment and embellishing it.

Cheap clothing is great for practicing your art, but not so great for comfort.

3) Washing Soda

Is used to facilitate the reaction between the dye and the fabric.

You usually soak the fabric in a solution of water and washing soda prior to dyeing.

Or you can put the soda directly in the dye bottles.

Table of Contents

1. Fabric
2. Fiber-reactive dye
3. Squirt bottles
4. Water
5. Soda ash
6. Gloves
7. Urea
8. Work surface

In this section we will dive deep into the tools needed to tie-dye a piece of clothing. You will learn what supplies are the best and where you can get them.

You’ll find what you need wether you’re a beginner or an aspiring professional.

This list of materials is complementary to our guide on the processes. Combine these resources to further your understanding of the craft.

With supplies in hand and instructions in mind, the world of tie-dye will open its doors.

1. Fabric

What kinds of fabric can I dye?

There are many types of fabric you can dye.

The world of tie-dye is full of possibilities and that includes the very fabric you can dye.

You can dye any natural fiber with fiber-reactive dyes. Cotton, linen, hemp, jute, silk and wool to name a few.

You also are not limited to shirts, the list of items you can dye is massive. You could as well dye a pair of socks, a bandana, a massive tapestry, yoga leggings and so forth.

What if I try to dye a synthetic material such as polyester, nylon, acrylic or spandex?

Your results will vary but usually you will find that at first the dye seems to impregnate the fabric,
but as soon as you rinse it the dye will come right off.

There are specialty dyes that deal with synthetic fibers but we won’t get into them here.

So, let’s say I want to dye a lot of shirts, what brand of shirt should I get?
For practicing and experimenting, nothing can beat cheap, basic shirts. Brands that make good, cheap shirts are : Gildan, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom among others.

Yet their cheap price comes with some severe flaws such as poorer feel and build quality. These shirts are often used as part of work uniforms.

You can tolerate lesser comfort from a work shirt but they not enjoyable for everyday life.

What if you want to get serious about dyeing?

Let’s say you are past the experimentation stage or want to turn your art into a business.

Advanced tie-dyers are better off with high quality apparel. There are brands that sell premium shirts in bulk.

For a higher price you can buy apparel that doesn’t compromise.

There’s are a few brands that we use and can recommend.

American Apparel, Bella&Canvas are the brands we are most impressed by.

These are similar in quality to what you can find in a clothing store.

2. Dye

The type of dye which is most interesting for our use it called a fiber-reactive dye.
This type of dye attaches itself to the fibers of the fabric. The bond is so strong that the effect is permanent.

No amount of washing is able to separate the dye from the fabric. This is why a tie-dyed shirt can last its whole life with minimal fading of the colors.

What brand of dye should I get?
We personally tried a few different brands at our workshop and there is one that stands out above the rest. While it is possible to have some success using other brands, we find that they are lacking in certain ways.

The dyes we use are Procion fiber-reactive dyes from Dharma Trading.
They work simply and effectively and we never had a problem with their dye or their service.

You can get it very cheaply when you buy it directly from them, and can appreciate significant discounts when buying in bulk.

This is all-around a very cheap hobby to partake in when you know where to get the good stuff, which is here.
If you can’t justify buying a few pounds of dye you can get a ready-made kit ideal for beginners and first-timers here.

3. Bottles

Squirt bottles to mix and apply the dye.
Elastic bands to tie the shirt.

4. Water

The technique refers specifically to the way the apparel is folded and tied.
The folding process makes it possible to dye different patterns into a shirt.

5. Soda ash

Soda ash serves a very important purpose for tie-dyeing. In fact, sodium carbonate in your water raises the pH of the soak which will strongly help the fiber reactive dye to adhere onto the fabric fibers.

How much soda ash should i use?

Also called washing soda, you should use in proportion of 1 cup per gallon of water. 

6. Gloves

Gloves are important. We yet tried to work with dishwashing gloves. It works if this is the only gloves you have but the dexterity with these isn’t the best you can have.

Nitrile gloves are usually the one you want. They have much higher feel to manipulate your cloth. Even if it is said on the box for a single use, you can wear them for many session, as long as you keep them clean with a quick riinig with water.

7. Urea

Urea serves the purpose of a better absorption of powdered dye in the water. This means that using urea can give you a richer color.

8. Work surface

We recommend you get yourself a working space with a table or desk.
You’ll also need a plastic tarp to cover the table. Alternatively you
can use cookie trays lined with parchment paper.