How To Crinkle Tie Dye a Shirt

Dyeing fabric

If you were around in the 1960’s and 70’s you would be familiar with how popular tie dye shirts had been. Actually, tie dye shirts are still a staple among vacationers, colleges and schoolchildren. You don’t have to be a hippie to make and wear tie dye shirts.

Tie dye shirts are actually easy to make. You don’t need to be an expert with drawing or creating patterns. You only need a few materials, some extra time, and a willingness to experiment.

What you need:

  • White T-shirt
  • Plastic tablecloth
  • Fabric dyes
  • Bowls or condiment bottles
  • Rubber bands or string
  • Plastic wrap
  • Salt

Prepare your work area. Tie dyeing shirts can be very messy, as dye can get all over the place. It will be important for you to prepare your work area, so that your furniture and upholstery don’t get ruined. Get a plastic sheet and cover your table. You should also be wearing work clothing, like overalls or at least an apron, so you don’t ruin your street clothes with dye.

It’s best to use white T-shirts for tie-dyeing. Use pre-shrunk cotton shirts, as these will be the most absorbent.

Mix the dyes. You can tie dye a shirt with only one color, but if you’d like to be more creative, then you can use several dyes. Prepare at least two or three colors at a time. if your dyes are in powder form, follow the instructions at the packaging on how much water you should add. If you will be dipping the shirt into dyes, then prepare bowls for this purpose. If you will be squeezing dye out, you can use condiment bottles.

Dye your shirt. Tie dyeing involves collecting a few inches of cloth on your shirt, then tying these off with rubber bands or string. Then the portion is dipped into the dye. The part where the string or rubber band holds the cloth together will not absorb dye, and will create different shapes and patterns.

If you are using bowls, dip the tied-off part of the shirt into the bowl. If you’re using bottles, then squirt some dye into that portion.

Tie different parts of the shirt. After dyeing one part, you can remove the tie and you can now tie different parts of the shirt to dip into the dye. You can use different dyes to create different colored shirts.

Let the dye set. After you finish dyeing, place the shirt inside a zip-lock bag, and put it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, prepare a tub or pail with water with enough salt that it won’t dissolve any more salt. Submerge the shirt in the saltwater for about an hour. Finally, you can wash the shirt in the laundry just as you would any colored shirt.

Tie dyeing shirts actually involves different techniques. You can tie several parts at a time, and dip the entire shirt in dye, for a single-color design. You can also crinkle different-sized portions to have variation in how big the designs will be.


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