How to Tie-Dye Natural-Fiber Clothing

Introduction: How to Tie-Dye Natural-Fiber Clothing

In this tutorial, I will explain the process of tie-dyeing sweatpants and a sweatshirt. But, the steps can be applied to any piece of natural fiber clothing. The tutorial will show how to create a splatter paint tie-dye design. Although, the steps can be used to create any tie-dye design as long as the clothes are folded and secured to suit the desired design.


  • Natural fiber clothing
  • Tie-dye colors
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic squirt bottles
  • Plastic garbage bags or a tarp
  • Plastic bags (Grocery bags work)
  • Plastic gloves
  • Access to hot water, cold water, and a washing machine.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies.

  1. Find or buy a piece or pieces of clothing (with natural fibers) that will be tie-dyed.
  2. Find or buy the supplies needed to tie-dye the clothing.
    1. This includes tie-dye colors, rubber bands, plastic squirt bottles (one for each tie-dye color), one to two plastic bags per clothing item, plastic gloves, and a tarp or plastic garbage bag(s).
    2. If you do not own a tarp, another item that can be used to protect the floor or ground from staining is plastic garbage bags. Cut the bags in half, so that they can be spread out.

Step 2: Prepare the Supplies.

  1. Find a space to tie-dye that is not in close proximity to valuable items. Outdoors is the best option. But avoid tie-dyeing outside on windy days unless you don’t mind having low control over where the color goes. Spread out a tarp or plastic bag(s) in the area that you would like to tie-dye.
  2. Prepare other supplies.
    1. Prepare the clothing to be tie-dyed by wetting it with hot or warm water. Wring the clothing out. The clothing needs to be damp, not soaked.
    2. Mix tie-dye with hot water. Follow the directions on your tie-dye color box or bottle as directions may vary for different brands. Make sure that the water is not so hot that it will melt your plastic bottles.
      • I used liquid tie-dye color. I wanted a light pastel-like color, so I got about half a cup of hot water in my plastic bottle and mixed only a couple drops of tie-dye color into it.
      • Add as many drops of color as you would like. The more drops you add, the darker the color will be. Keep in mind that the color is most likely going to fade a little bit when it is washed in the washing machine.
  3. To achieve a splatter paint design, scrunch up clothing in a random way and put rubber bands around it to hold it in that position. Check out the blog, By Stephanie Lynn, for more tie-dye folding techniques if you would like to achieve a different design.
    1. Splatter paint design
      • For pants, I suggest starting with the ankle of one leg and scrunching the material, like an accordion, until you reach the upper thigh of the pant. Then, scrunch across the pelvic part and down the other leg until you reach the ankle. Secure with at least two rubber bands.
      • For a shirt or sweatshirt, I suggest starting with the end of the arm and scrunching up until you reach the armpit area. Then, scrunch across the chest area and down the other arm. Secure that section with a rubber band. Next scrunch down the rest of the shirt or sweatshirt until you reach the hem. Secure with a rubber band.

Step 3: Add Color

  1. Squirt the tinted water onto clothing. Have fun with this part. Squirt each color wherever you would like it to go. Make sure to get color onto every part of the clothing, leaving no colorless spots (unless you would like to).
    1. You may have to slightly unravel clothing from the rubber bands to squirt tinted water onto each part of the clothing, but then tuck the clothing back into the rubber bands as quickly as possible.
      • Another option, to make sure that all parts of the clothing have color, is to lay the clothing out flat on the plastic garbage bag or tarp. Then, add color to one side, flip the clothing over, and add color to that side. After you are done quickly scrunch up the clothing and secure with rubber bands.
  2. Leave clothing in rubber bands and put in plastic bags to sit for 8 to 24 hours. Twenty-four hours is recommended because it allows the tie-dye color to set better in the clothing.

Step 4: Aftercare

  1. Once the clothing has been left in the plastic bags for 8 to 24 hours, unwrap from the bags. After it is unwrapped, rinse it under cold water as you take off the rubber bands. Wring the clothing out. If you see color running out as you are wringing it out, have no worries. That is normal.
  2. Wash clothing by itself in the washing machine with hot water and soap. Then hang-dry. You are finished!

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