Tie Dying Colored Shirts: It Can Be Done

Tie-dye is arguably one of the coolest fashion trends around, it can really elevate a look from being low key and simple to bold and vibrant.

Tie dye is super unique, and if you do it yourself, you will find it super difficult to get any kinds of tie dye to look remotely alike. How crazy is that ?! 

It is absolutely possible to purchase shirts or other kinds of clothes that have already been tie-dyed, and it is also possible to tie dye your own shirts. However, the real question is whether or not you can try to tie dye colored shirts yourself.

Well, yeah you can! There are some dos and don’ts that we will explore in this piece – and practice really makes perfect here.

Tie Dying Colored Shirts: It Can Be Done

You might not be an instant tie dye sensation – but you can definitely improve when you get in more practice. It is actually pretty straightforward to tie dye a colored shirt – and there are lots of different color combinations that we can recommend. 

So, what are you waiting for? Read on for all things tie dye related!

The History Of Tie Dye

The concept of tie dyeing is something that has been around for an extended period of time. In fact, the earliest examples of tie dye are from 5th century China – but in the Western world, it did not rise in popularity until the 1960s. And, this was when tie dye really took off.

Tie dye might be something that we are more used to buying pre-done via online clothes shops. However, it is something that can also be done at home too.

Back in the 1960s, tie dyeing would have been an especially popular activity for kids during stays at summer camps, or it’s perhaps something that kids would do at sleepovers. 

However, fewer and fewer people will be familiar with how to tie dye, and they may have forgotten how tie dyeing really works.

But, if you are someone who is creatively inclined then tie dyeing will be something that you will enjoy and will definitely be a habit that you want to keep up.

If you find that you really enjoy tackling a DIY project – or if you find that you are someone who just loves the idea of having unique items of clothing, then tie dyeing will definitely be the trend for you. 

What Exactly Is Tie Dye?

So, as the name itself suggests – tie dye is where you tie a piece of clothing and then dye it. Yeah, the clues really do lie in the name.

To start off the process you just have to fold the garment into a pattern of some kind and then you have to tie the garment once you are satisfied with the kind of pattern you have created. For the tying process, you’ll need to use rubber bands or string. 

The final stage of the process is to add dye to some parts of the fabric, and this is how the tie dye effect is truly established. 

Tie dyeing is known for being a resist dyeing method, this means that some areas will get dyed and other areas will have to stay undyed: this is what will give you the cool and original patterns.

Tie dyeing is so difficult to replicate because of the random fashion that it is done in. There’s a Jackson Pollock-esque freedom to it!

Also, tie dyeing proves to be an especially easy and affordable way of upcycling and revamping your clothes. You can take some old clothes that you are considering disposing of or donating, and you can give them a second lease on life. You will be able to turn a tired shirt into a funky and fresh new item of clothing to wear. 

Tie dyeing is recognized for its use of bright and vibrant colors, the more vibrant the better! There really are no limits when it comes to tie dye! 

How Does The Tying Process Work?

Well, you have to tie up the garment in order to create the fun patterned effect of tie dye… Or you will just end up with dyed clothes. Still fun, but not quite as funky without the ‘tie’ part… 

The whole purpose of tying the garment is so to create the patterns for the die to work with. You need to tie some parts of the clothing together and this will ensure that the tied bits do not absorb the dye.

By doing this, you are making sure that the dye only really has an effect on the exposed parts of the garment. 

If you are keen to give tie dyeing a go at home, then you will find that doing this by hand is really the best method.

When it comes to purchasing tie dyed garments online, you will find that these have been done by machines. However, tie dyeing by hand is much more practical and it is much more fun than just using a machine. 

How Does The Dyeing Process Work?

When it comes to thinking about the dyeing process, the tieing stage is especially important. After all, the ties that you do are what will really give you the cool dye outcomes.

When you are happy with the ties that you have made in your clothing, you can then submerge the garment into a dye bath.

Once you have tied your piece of clothing into knots and when you have then submerged this into dye, you will need to give the die on your clothes time to dry.

When you reach the stage where you are ready to untie the garment you will find a really cool vibrant tie dye pattern – this could be more of an abstract pattern or it could be spotty or maybe even stripey. 

You will also find that tie dyeing allows you to make a lot of different patterns with a wide variety of colors. So, whatever your personal preference is – you will be able to make your tie dye match this pretty well.

In fact, you can tie dye with more than just one color by layering the colors that you use during the tie dying process – you just have to wait for the first round of dye to dry before you tie and dye the next color on top of this.

If you want to tie dye with more than just one color dye, it’s all about having patience and ensuring that you wait enough time to repeat the process. Waiting the appropriate amount of time before each dyeing session will mean that you get the best results possible.

What Do You Need In Order To Tie Dye?

Naturally, there are some supplies that you will have to invest in so that your tie dye process will be a success. After all, you do not want to spend all the time tying and applying dye to your garments for it to not turn out the way that you want it to. 

Ultimately, you need to ensure that you invest in the correct dye in order for the tie dye process to work. There are lots of different kinds of dyes that you can purchase, you can purchase specific tie dyeing dye, or you can purchase cold water dyes to tie dye your garment. 

You will usually find that specific tie dyeing dye will come in a liquid form, whereas cold water dye will usually come in a powder form.

Ultimately, practice makes perfect when it comes to working out what dye will suit you the best. You can get both liquid forms and powder forms in a variety of colors and so you will not have a problem when it comes to color selection.

If you have never worked with liquid or powder dye before then maybe consider trying liquid first. This is a lot less intimidating and you will be able to create a really unique and original tie dye design.

However, you might feel more confident when you browse through the powder dye selection – either way, neither is superior to the other. Both will allow you to tie dye your garments in a stress-free manner and that is ultimately the main goal here.

You will also want to invest in soda ash to ensure that your tie dyeing clings to your garment. After all, you don’t want to go into all the effort of tying and then dyeing your garment just for the dye to come off when you put it in the washing machine.

Soda ash is what helps the fabric really soak up the dye. It looks similar to white chalk, and it balances the pH of the water so that your garment can slurp up the dye like crazy.

You will also want a bucket and some water in order to dye your garments. When you tie dye something, you have to submerge it into a dye bath so that the dye can really cling onto the garment.

Last, but by no means least you will need some rubber bands or string in order to tie your garment. When we say ‘garment’, you might be wondering what exactly you can tie dye.

Well, there is actually a wide variety of things that you can tie dye. Be it t-shirts or socks or even towels or bed sheets, or maybe even scarves – you can pretty much tie dye anything!

If you are new to the tie dye game then we recommend using cotton material just because this is much easier to tie and dye on the first attempt. Then, as you get more confident you can move on to tie dyeing whatever you want. 

Let’s Talk About Tie Dyeing Colored Fabric

Tie Dying Colored Shirts: It Can Be Done

You are probably here because you are wondering whether or not you can tie dye a colored shirt of some kind. For instance, you might be especially keen to tie dye a black shirt that you own. 

Well, it actually is possible to tie dye a black shirt that you own – but dyeing light colors onto dark fabric does need some preparation.

You might have to look into bleaching the shirt beforehand because it would be really difficult to tie dye a black shirt with lighter and brighter colors as they would have nothing to cling onto. 

For instance, if you tried to tie dye a black shirt with a light pink dye then this will not show up on the black top – because the black is significantly darker than the pink hue. So, you would have to use bleach in order to allow the dye to cling onto parts of the fabric.

So, you will need to apply bleach in a squeeze bottle and this will cause a warm orange hue to appear on the black shirt.

This is not quite the same as being able to instantly tie dye a garment, but doing this will give the fabric lighter patches for your tie dye to cling onto. Trying to dye straight onto the black fabric will give you a pretty poor result. 

When it comes to thinking about whether or not you can tie dye a gray shirt, you will actually find that this is a lot easier to tie dye than your black shirt. Of course, this depends on how dark the gray is.

The rule that you can follow when it comes to dyeing colored shirts is that you can dye them as long as the colors you plan on using are darker or deeper than the garment itself. 

Ultimately, the color of the fabric that you are working with does not have a huge effect on the tie dyeing process – but it can have an influence on the final tie dyeing outcome depending on how much clarity the final hue has. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Tie Dye A Shirt?

The process of tie dyeing a shirt gets easier the more that you do it – practice really makes perfect here. And, you will gradually be able to work out what you like over time, and you will be able to blend different colors in different tie dye patterns. 

In this piece, we really go into detail about how exactly you can tie dye a garment – but in summary, you scrunch up your item, tie it with elastic bands or string and then submerge it into a dye bath.

Then you have to wait for this to dry and that is your tie dye complete!

What Is Tie Dyeing?

Tie dyeing is the process of literally tying a garment using rubber bands or string, and then you submerge the garment in the tie dyeing dye.

You should use gloves of some kind to be able to prevent any dye getting on your skin. This will also help you maneuver the garment in the dye, and you will be able to take it out of the dye bucket and then leave it to dry.

How Can You Get Really Fun Tie Dye Patterns?

Every tie dye pattern is always going to be fun, because the patterns you create are always going to be unique.

You can add a little extra to your tie dye patterns by using different colors or different scrunching techniques – ultimately your tie dyed piece will be a wonderful work of art. 

There are a whole host of different scrunching techniques that you can try, and these will really help you to elevate your tie dyeing skills. You can create fun tie dye patterns by folding your garment in different ways and by trying out different ways of tying the garment.

How Do You Tie Your Clothing Together For Tie Dyeing?

The best way that you can tie your clothes for tie dyeing is by scrunching the item of clothing and tying randomly.

This will help you to create unique and quirky patterns – you just have to gather and scrunch the fabric into a tube shape and then roll it into a small round. You can tie this with elastic bands or with string, whichever you have access to – or whichever you feel most comfortable working with.

What Are The Best Tie Dyeing Techniques?

One of the most classic and authentic tie dye techniques is the spiral technique. This is a technique where you can use a single or multiple colors to achieve a spiral effect on a garment. Ultimately, whether you decide to use one color or four colors you will end up with a unique design every time.

What Is A Spiral Tie Dye Pattern?

This is basically what the name suggests – this is a tie dye pattern that is in the shape of a spiral. This is a very authentic and classic tie dye look that a lot of people will use during the tie dyeing process – and this is because it really shows off the tie dye.

This technique falls into the classic ‘simple yet effective’ category, and that is why this is a technique that is loved and used by so many people to this day.

In Conclusion

Overall, you can tie dye colored fabrics, but you need to be sensible and really consider your dyeing choices, so that it works well – and so that you get the desired effect.

You do not want to waste your time trying to tie dye a garment and then it not working out as well as it could.

You can tie dye a colored shirt but tie dyeing is much more effective on a white shirt rather than using a colored shirt – that’s not to say it can’t be done, it most certainly can – but it might take a bit more preparation than you would initially expect from a shirt.

When it comes to tie dyeing technique in general, preparation is key. This is because you want to ensure that the end result is worth going through the entire process for.

You want your tie dye shirt to look as good as you envision it to be in your mind – and for this reason, you really need to think carefully about your color choices when it comes to tie dyeing a colored shirt.

The general rule to go by is not to pick a color and then try to tie dye it with a color that is lighter. You are going to want your tie dye to be pigmented and vibrant, so you should always try to pick a color that is deeper and that will therefore be more vibrant than the base color of the clothing. 

You can achieve your desired result by using a darker top and a lighter color by tie dyeing with bleach instead of tie dye, but this is an especially signature look, and you will need perseverance and patience if you want to try and adapt this.

If you are especially keen to tie dye a colored shirt, just make sure you really take into account the colors you are trying to blend together – you do not want to set yourself up to fail before you even begin.

Tie dyeing a black shirt for instance is especially tricky, but it can be done with the help of bleach.

Don’t forget to have fun with your at home tie dyeing – sure preparation is definitely key here, but you need to remember why you wanted to try this out in the first place. Because it looks fun – so, happy tie dyeing!

Amanda Brown

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