Why You Should Turn Your Shirt Inside Out For Tie-dye

Close up of a blank inside out shirt, showing the seams.

You might have noticed that some tie-dye artists like to turn their shirts inside out before folding them. Is this step necessary? Why bother inverting the shirt at all?

Turning the shirt inside out exposes the seams to help in folding. It also turns the front and back towards each other, increasing symmetry. Inverting the fabric also helps in reducing stains and covering mistakes.

There’s a reason why so many pro tie-dye artists prepare their blanks this way. So, maybe you should try it yourself the next time you tie-dye.

Do you Need to Tie-dye a Shirt Inside Out?

Most people who are new to the craft won’t take the time or won’t know about the benefits of doing so. How much are they missing out? Will they fail because they didn’t invert their shirt?

No, it is not strictly necessary to invert a shirt prior to tie-dye. You can just as well tie-dye a shirt normally. The difference between the two is very slim and only becomes considerable when using advanced folding techniques.

The choice really is yours. Most novices are perfectly happy to be dyeing however they can. They also have a lot to practice and they don’t need to concentrate on the details too quickly.

Pros, on the other hand, often view it as a necessity. It’s a must when going for unprecedented levels of tie-dye execution. This is also something you should think about if you have clients demanding exceptional products.

Top Reasons to Turn a Shirt Inside Out

1. Easier to Fold

The first reason for turning the shirt inside out is that it exposes the seams. With the seams visible you are then able to more easily align them when folding the shirt.

Turning the shirt inside out let’s you fold the shirt more precisely. It helps align the edges and prevent as many creases from forming.

When left inside, seams can interfere with your folding. They are harder to control if you can’t see them. Additionally, they create distance between the two sides of the shirt which might mess up your symmetry.

2. Prevent Stains

Another reason why I like to turn shirts inside out prior to tie-dye is to prevent staining. 

Turning the shirt inside out makes it so you place the dye on the faces that are normally hidden. Any mistake, dripping, or dye anomaly will have less chance of becoming visible.

When dyes are not mixed well enough they can create small clumps of dye. These clumps then get deposited on the shirt when dyeing. This results in unappealing darkened spots.

Dye powder precipitates out of the solution over time. The dye can then create highly concentrated spots of color that look like stains. This is especially a problem with red and orange colors, but can happen with any dye.

3. Front and Back Facing Each Other

Having the shirt inside out places both exterior faces on top of each other. This enhances the symmetry between the two faces.

Turning the shirt inside out makes it so the front and back of the shirt are symmetrical.

This little detail is especially important when making an advanced design. You don’t want one side to be perfect and the other to be crooked. Simply, it helps your project be perfect.

How to Turn a Shirt Inside Out

The goal of inverting a shirt is to get the inside part facing outward. You want the tags and seams of the shirt to be facing outside.

Start with the shirt flat on a table. Put your hand inside the shirt, through the bottom. Reach out to the collar while holding the shirt in place with the other hand. Grab hold of the collar and pull it through the bottom. Pull the rest of the shirt through.

Once the bulk of the shirt is inverted you can set the sleeves. If the sleeves are still facing inward, pull them to the outside.