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DIY Tutorial: Tie-Dye Tees


By Lizi Woolgar

A great tie-dye T-shirt, in my opinion, is an absolute staple. If you’re style is more Zara – workwear and frills galore – this kind of baggy tee might not slot into your wardrobe quite so well. But don’t forget, you can tie-dye any item of clothing provided it’s cotton, so if you fancy jazzing up some autumn options, why not have a go at this tutorial?

Everything you need for tie dying image

Everything you need for tie dying

What do I need?

  • Cotton clothing (tees, dresses, cardigans, socks and all the rest!)
  • Tie-die kit (I got mine from ebay)  The kit is not essential however you need everything it contains so I would recommend buying one .The dyes you’ll get are of far better quality than craft shop dyes.
  • Rubber gloves
  • Elastic bands (loads!)
  • Salt
  • Large bucket(s)
  • Bin/Trash bags a-plenty
  • Scissors, beads, sewing kit (optional for additional DIY)

You got all that? Good good, let’s get started.


diy bullseye tie dye tshirt image

1. Lay the T-shirt flat and pinch the centre section. Wrap an elastic band tighly around 1-2cm down to make the centre of the bullseye.

2. To create the outer circles of the bullseye, keep wrapping elastic bands directly below the central one at irregular intervals, until it resembles the image above.


3. For the swirl design, pinch the centre and twist into a spiral, either clockwise or anticlockwise – it doesn’t matter!

swirl tie dye tshirt image

4.Once your spiral is as tight as can be, use one hand (you might need a foot too) to hold it in place, then wrap multiple bands around the outside to keep it together in the ‘spiral lump’ shape, as I like to call it (see below).

diy swirl tie dye tshirt image

5. Now: the fun bit! Lay out plenty of bin liners (cut ’em in half first) ideally outdoors and place down your elastic-banded goods. Prepare the dyes as the kit instructions say – this might involve soaking the clothes in saltwater for a short period prior to using the dye.

diy swirl tie dye tshirt

6. Add each colour of dye in turn in between the banded spaces. A word of warning: the dyes do spread incredibly rapidly through the damp material, so try to underdo it first. You can always add more! Similarly, you can’t just throw the dye on willy-nilly (like my first tutorial) as you’ll get some ugly browns from the mixing (as demonstrated above by my maggot-like tee).

tie dye tutorial image

7. Once you’ve used every last squeeze of dye, wrap the clothes in bin bags and leave overnight for the colours to take. The following morning, rip off those bands and rinse the items with cold water to reveal your pretty patterns! Exciting stuff.

tie dye tshirt tutorial image

8. Chuck the clothes into the washing machine for a quick spin-cycle to rinse off the excess dye.

9. Make a cuppa, sit back and admire your handiwork.

tie dye tshirt tutorial image

10. If you fancy getting even more creative with your T-shirts, simply follow my first tutorial for the beaded tassel top to create this effect:

tie dye tshirt cutting tutorial image


And finally, if you want to try creating a horizontal-dye dress effect, follow these simple steps:

1. Simple slip or thin straps work best for this. You know the drill by now; lay it out on a flat surface to begin.

2. Fold your dress in 4-5 sections lengthways to create a long, thin strip.

tie dye tshirt tutorial image

3. Tie the bands up the dress at a larger distance apart than the bullseye, until the entire dress resembles a string of sausages (ew).

4. Follow the basic dye, leave overnight, rinse and wash rules and hopefully you should end up with something looking a little like this…

tie dye tshirt tutorial image

Lizi Woolgar

University of Bristol | 40 stories

Graduate of University of Bristol. Having spent my first two years of University writing for the student newspaper, epigram and Brighton-based Spindle Magazine, I then went on to edit the Style section of Epigram 2012-2013. Now keen to pursue a career in journalism/editorial work, I look forward to writing my weekly column for The College Tourist, all the while seeing where my writing and travel will take me.

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