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October 24, 2005

DIY: How to Tie-Dye a Garment

Today's "How to" article courtesy of English-blog contributor Ali L.:

Tie-Dyeing Fun

Over time, the appeal of tie-dyed items has decreased. Very popular in the sixties, the love of tie-dye has slowly returned. Many people decide to buy pre-dyed items which can take away from the fun that is involved in turning a plain, boring piece of fabric into a far out array of colors and designs. In order to make the perfect tie-dyed item, supplies must be gathered, fabrics prepared, and finally dyed. Following these steps will help to increase the chance of having a successful tie-dyeing experience . . .

. . . The best place to start is to gather all of the materials needed. The easiest thing to do is to buy a tie-dye kit. The kit includes powder dye in bottles, many rubber bands, plastic gloves, soda ash fixer, and directions. The directions provided are sometimes unclear, so it might be better to find other directions. The best place to find understandable directions is to buy a book that will explain the entire tie-dyeing process. A large bucket or container will be needed to soak the fabric. If a kit is not used, colors have to be selected, making sure that when blended together, the color made does not ruin the item’s appeal to the person making it. The item that is going to be dyed also has to be selected. Nearly anything can be tie-dyed, but the easiest and best place to start is a plain, white, cotton t-shirt. The clothes that are used during the process should be ones that can get messy and permanently dyed. Once all of the supplies are gathered, it is time to start preparing the fabric and dye to be used.

There are many different steps involved in the preparation of materials. The bucket must be filled with water, either warm or cold, according to the soda ash fixer packet. The soda ash must then be poured into the water and stirred until it had completely dissolved. The soda ash fixer is used to set the dye in the fabric. It is not a necessary item, but the colors on the finished product will be much more vibrant if it is used. Once the soda ash has dissolved put the fabric in the mixture. The fabric must be completely covered by the water, ensuring that all of the material has soaked up the soda ash fixer. The fabric should be left to sit for at least forty minutes. While the fabric is being soaked, water must be added to the bottles that contain the powdered dye. The bottles must be shaken until all of the powdered dye is dissolved.

Once the fabric has been properly soaked, removed from the water, and wrung out, the fabric should be tied so that a design will be formed. This step can sometimes be the most difficult. There are many different types of designs, but there are three that are the most popular. These include the spiral, the sunburst, and the crinkle. All of these patterns require a special and different way of tying of the fabric.

Out of those three, the most popular is the spiral. In order to create this pattern, the shirt should be laid out flat on a clean surface. The shirt should be held in the middle, or wherever the spiral is going to start, and slowly twisted in a circle. The middle of the shirt must be held, or the spiral will come apart. Once it is twisted, three or four rubber bands can be used to divide the shirt into either six or eight sections. The sections should be equal in size, ensuring that the spiral pattern will be successful. The next pattern is less complicated than the spiral. To achieve this pattern, the middle of the shirt should be pulled up, away from the ground. The fabric should be pulled until it is pulled into a straight line. The amount of rubber bands needed depends on how many colors and rings the dyer wants. Once the person making the shirt has decided how many are to be used and then wrap them around the shirt, starting at the top and working down. The easiest pattern to make is the crinkle. Actually, it is more random than a set pattern. The shirt should be bunched up and the rubber bands placed on at random. Once the shirt, shirts, or other material is tied, they are ready to dye.

The most fun and exciting step of the tie-dye process is the actual dyeing. If a kit is being used, rubber gloves have been provided. Although using the gloves will prevent the dyer’s hands from turning many colors, it is much more fun not to use them. When dye has been applied to the fabric, the dyer should always make sure to squeeze out excess dye so the colors do not run together too much. For the spiral pattern, squirt one color in one section, both front and back. Another color can them be used to repeat that step until the shirt is completely covered with dye. For the best results, two or three colors should be used for a good spiral. The same technique is used for the sunburst pattern, squirting the dye into the different sections formed by the rubber bands. For the crinkle, dyes are randomly squirted on the shirt. Dye should be squirted on the inside, allowing the entire shirt to be dyed, not just the areas on the outside. For the most vibrant and crazy colors, the material should be left to sit for at least twenty-four hours. Once twenty-four hours is up, the rubber bands can be removed and the dyer can admire the groovy tie-dyed patterns they have made. The extra dye should be rinsed out before the shirts are put into a washing machine. The shirts should be washed multiple times, ensuring that all of the excess dye has been washed away. Finally, the shirts can be dried and worn.

The tie-dyeing process is not a difficult one, but the more a person practices, the more they will get a lock on the steps. Following these steps will help a person make the most out of sight tie-dyed item. One should never buy a pre-made tie-dyed shirt or any other type of material. One of the main appeals in wearing one of these shirts is knowing that it is hand-made. If this project has been a success, the person who did it can share their dyeing tips with others, and spread the love of tie-dye once again.

~ Ali L.

*NOTE: For more English-Blog DIY or "How to . . ." articles, please click HERE!

Comments for Aly's article "Tie-Dyeing Fun?" Please leave them below:

Posted by lhobbs at October 24, 2005 12:40 AM

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