How to tie-dye using the crumple technique
About the crumple
The crumple is a nice simple technique that is loved by beginners and experts alike. You may know it under other names such as the scrunch and the random folding. There are in fact many ways to crumple fabric and more specifically to crumple a shirt.
Made famous for it’s random and chaotic designs, the crumple is the king of irregularity. You may roughly crumple the shirt into a ball just like you can take your time by only crumpling small areas at a time. The choice is yours wether you want to do it very precisely or if you prefer randomness.
There are many levels to the crumple, starting from beginner-friendly up to a level that is much more involved where you manually manipulate very small sections of the shirt at a time.
Folding a crumple
Start with the shirt flat on a table. Crumple, ball up, scrunch, or otherwise bunch up the fabric. Bring the fabric together to create folds. Randomness is key here. The more you scramble the shirt, the more the dye placement will be random and the less predictable the result will be.
To crumple the shirt, simply bundle the shirt into a ball. This is the most basic way of crumpling a shirt and will give you a very random design. There are different levels to the crumple. A basic one will have the fabric bunched up randomly. An advanced crumpling will use small controlled pleats and will follow precise lines to result in a clearer image.
Dyeing a crumple
Once you have your shirt all nice and crumpled up, it’s time to give it some color. How do you actually dye a crumpled shirt? The easiest method to try is to go with your feelings. Do you want to cover all the shirt with color? Do you want to leave white areas? Let your best judgment be your guide.
The most common way a tie-dye artist will dye a crumple is by gently pouring spots of color on the shirt. If you use pale colors and have only a few spots of colors and they are far apart, it will give you a light and refined look. Something fun with the crumple is that its really hard to predict where the color will end up and you’ll be surprised every time.
There are more advanced crumpling methods that the experts use. Expert level you are able to control and manipulate the way the fabric crumples, and will be able to make very interesting effects. One of the most advanced use of this technique is the living flames technique. Big and untidy folds cause massive distortion. Lots of small controlled folds will make for a clearer image.
For advanced crumpling, you may realize that the crumple fold is very springy in nature, it has a tendency to expand if it’s not held in place. You will definitely need good string to keep it tight and compact. You can also use temporary methods of restraining certain areas during the folding. These methods can range from simply tying the shirt with cord as you go.
It helps to work on small areas at a time. You do all your pleats in a corner, then you either bind it with thread or you can place a heavy object on top of the folded section. Small random pleats all move and push against each other. They all act as springs they store the energy of you pushing them against each other. Few people have learned to understand and predict the crumple, few have tamed it.
This is our collection of all the crumple we’ve made and recorded so far.
Each pattern you see here comes with it’s own video where we show you how to fold and dye the design.
– Click on the shirt to play instructions –