How to Tie Dye Shirts at Home so You Can DIY the Celebrity-Loved Trend
by Caroline Harris
Open Instagram right now and you’re almost guaranteed to see at least one tie-dye lounge set. The tie-dye trend is popular again thanks to A-listers like Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, and Gigi Hadid. Now, the psychedelic style doesn’t seem to stay on store shelves for very long. In the words of Plato, “necessity is the mother of invention,” so it’s time to get crafty with DIY tie dye shirts. We rounded up everything you need to transform ordinary white t-shirts into the trendy tie-dye look that’s loved by the stars. You can apply these same techniques to other clothes as well, from socks to sweatpants.
How To Create DIY Tie Dye Shirts
Pick up a plain white shirt (like these) and for best results, choose a shirt that is pre-washed and 100 percent cotton. You may already have an old t-shirt you can use, or you can order a new one for under $15. (We included some more cheap options below.) You will need the following supplies: dye powder, rubber bands, rubber gloves, plastic bags, and a plastic table cover.
If you don’t already have these materials on hand, order a tie dye kit that will conveniently contain everything you need. Tie dye kits come with step-by-step instructions, which also makes your life simpler.
Since tie dying can get a little messy, it’s smart to have some paper towels and old rags on hand for easy clean-up. Once you have all your supplies in place, it’s time to start tie-dying. Check out this video for some helpful tie-dying tips. While the focus is tie-dying sweatsuit sets, the same general principles apply.
Start by wetting your shirt in hot water, then wringing out any excess water. Next, lay your shirt flat on a table covered with a plastic cover. Tightly tie your shirt with rubber bands. There are many different ways to twist or rubber band your shirt depending on your desired pattern. Some popular patterns include spirals, stripes, and bullseyes (which we explain more below).
Put your gloves on, then mix your dye with water depending on how dark you want your tie dye to be. More water dilutes the formula to create subtler shades; less water creates a punch of powerful pigment. Add the dye to your shirt. You can apply the dye randomly, taking a trial by error approach and seeing what happens when you add the dye to different sections of your shirt. Or, you can be more methodological, adding the colors in a precise manner depending on what look you’re going for.
Put your shirt in a plastic bag and let it sit for six to eight hours as the dye absorbs. Then, remove the rubber bands and rinse your shirt in cold water to remove excess dye. The final step is washing your shirt on its own on the cold setting, then hanging your shirt to dry.
How to Create Popular Tie Dye Patterns
For spirals: Pinch the point of the shirt where you want the spiral to form. Twist the rest of the shirt around that point, slowly working outwards, then add rubber bands. If you want a double spiral, fold your shirt in half diagonally, pinch the shirt’s center, then twist and rubber band your shirt.
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For stripes: Bunch your shirt together either horizontally or vertically, using rubber bands to space out where the stripes will be. The closer you space your rubber bands together, the tighter the stripes will be.
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For bullseyes: Grab the middle of your shirt, using that point as the bullseye’s center. Apply rubber bands outward, noting that more space between the rubber bands means more space between each layer of your bullseye.
Below, we rounded up all the essentials for your very own tie-dying adventure. Enjoy lounging in comfort and style in the trendiest look of the season.
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