Techniques

Tie-dye folding techniques with pictures

Many beautiful tie-dye shirts have been floating around lately. If you’re wondering how you can make such a design, then you’re at the right place. Here you will find the main folding and dyeing techniques. These techniques are the buildings blocks of tie-dye and enable you to follow any tie-dye pattern. This page represents a list of all the tie-dye techniques we’ve discovered so far and they are presented with simple instructions.

Here you can explore many ways to fold and dye a shirt. These are the main families of tie-dye designs with each technique having many corresponding patterns. There are many of them and some are still left to be discovered. Luckily, they all use the same basic principles so it’s easy to go from one to the other. Learning to manipulate the fabric and the dyes is all it takes to be able to do even the most difficult techniques. Nothing is out of your reach with a bit of patience and perseverance.

We’ll start by covering the easiest and most common techniques, they are beginner-friendly and easy to create. Do not be afraid to scroll further and try the advanced techniques if you feel adventurous. Nobody’s tie-dye path is the same and you may find that you have a particular affinity for a certain style. Feel free to try out the ones that appeal the most to you.

There is a great advantage in trying every technique as they all have something to offer and it simply opens up new possibilities for you. Like any other form of art you will find that practice makes perfect. You should consider trying out all the techniques presented on this page to get the full tie-dye experience. If this all seems like too much for you or if you’re not sure how to prepare a blank shirt or how to mix your dyes, feel free to check out our page on the basic tie-dye process.

The most basic form of folding. Simply bunch up the fabric randomly and create chaos.

The most iconic tie-dye design. The spiral is created by twisting the fabric around a point.

One of the pillars of modern tie-dye. Pleating teaches you how to make neat and regular folds.

An ancient technique ready for a comeback. The geode is accomplished by tightly fastening string around the fabric.

Tie-dye, but in reverse. Remove color from black fabric to create a negative image of any design.

What has been dyed can be dyed again. Mix and match designs to create new combinations.

Anything you can imagine you can create. Careful folding of the fabric let’s you create shapes and symbols.

Ice-dye

A cool twist on regular dyeing. Trading bottles for ice cubes creates flow and motion between the colors.

Mandala

The king of geometric symmetry. Folding the fabric multiple times on itself gives you sacred meditative symbols.

A combination of techniques. Create multiple distinct designs on the same piece of fabric to achieve the multi-pattern.

Other techniques

The oldest form of dyeing. Immersion involves submerging the fabric in a dye bath. Best for making solid-color items.

An ancient method of resisting dye. Batik involves coating areas of the fabric in wax to prevent them from being dyed.

Achieve peak precision with dye paint. Thicken your dyes to make a mixture similar to paint and apply it directly to your fabric canvas.

Inclination

Use gravity to your advantage. Having your fabric on a slope will guide the dye’s trajectory.

Mudding

Let your tie-dye creation bask in it’s juices. Dyeing your fabric in the bottom of a container makes for the perfect place for it to swim in its colors.

Shibori

A whole collection of ancient techniques. Shibori has its roots in Japanese tradition and lives up to this day.

Hot water irrigation

Maximum saturation and quick coloration. This techniques involves putting dye powder on the fabric before irrigating it with hot water.

Stitching

Get your thread and needle ready. This technique is very involved but it let’s you do things that would otherwise be impossible.

Stencil

Using a piece of material into which shapes have been cut to allow the shape to be drawn or painted. You can use the same stencil repeatedly with great speed and accuracy. The stencils are often made from card, plastic or wood, they can be cheaply made and can be reused many times. This is a great way to print a design on a shirt. One of the easiest way to dye the shirt once the stencil is in place is to simply use a spray bottle to lightly spray the dye.

Marbling

Marbling requires the use of fabric paint which floats on top of a thick cellulose solution called “size”. This is definitely different from the typical tie-dye techniques but is worth checking out because it makes crazy patterns. After preparing the materials you will gently pour the specialty paint on top of your bath before swirling it into various shapes and designs. Once that’s done you can lay a piece of fabric on top of it to transfer the pattern. There are so many different ways to use the marbling techniques that it requires its own guide.