8 Things You Must Know Before You Tie Dye a Shirt

by Kristen // updated on: February 24, 2023

Tie Dye What You Need to Know

In this Tie Dye What You Need to Know Guide you will learn everything you need to know about tie dying.

Whether it’s for a gift, or just for a fun activity with the family, tie-dying a tee shirt is a fun way to create something intricate and personable. While it’s usually done in the summertime, tie-dying can be an “any time of the year” to-do. Plus, who doesn’t love the feeling of accomplishment when you have created something 100% on your own? It’s a pretty cool feeling. Below are eight things to consider before you get to tie-dying your own shirt.

1) Decide on the right materials. Traditionally, a white tee shirt is used as the color to tie-dye, as it provides a blank canvas for the color to stick to. You will of course need some fabric-safe paint colors, preferably spanning the rainbow for maximum options. If the dyes aren’t mixed yet, you will need urea and soda ash as agents, as well as gloves and a measuring cup to dole out the appropriate amounts. Paper towels will be needed for cleanup and mess-resistance; a plastic bag will be necessary to place the final product in. Or you could of course use this tie dye kit.

Tie Dye Kit

First Steps for Tie Dying Clothing

2) Taking the first steps. In order to tie-dye a shirt, you will need to make sure the shirt has been properly prepped. If you are using the urea and soda ash, that’s what you’ll need to soak the shirt in, in order for the color to bond to the shirt. If you’re using a pre-packaged dye kit, it’s fine to bring your shirt as is.

3) Take shape. To create a classic shape for your shirt, a “rainbow swirl” pattern is key. To do this, you will need to use a dowel rod, a wooden clothespin, or even your finger to turn the shirt counterclockwise until it curls up into a flattened pie-like shape. You will then want to place rubber bands across the shirt, thus tying the shirt off into pie sections.

Colors for Tie Dying Clothes

4) Choose your colors. If you want to create a classic color display, using red, yellow, and blue as your 3 primary colors will serve you well. As the blue bleeds into the red, it will create purple; the yellow will bleed into the blue, thus creating green.

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5) Consider other options. Colors like orange, pink, and turquoise can also be used to add some pizazz to your shirt. If your shirt is for a sports or school team, use your team’s or school’s colors (e.g.: black and gold; orange and blue; blue and green; pink and purple).

6) Branch outside of tees. A tee shirt is not the only item of clothing you can tie-dye. A lot of people will tie-dye shorts, jeans, socks, or even shoes! Another common article of clothing to tie-dye? Accessories, such as headbands, bandanas, or even scarves.

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7) Memorable moments. As mentioned above, tie-dying can certainly be a family activity, as it creates a bond between the people who are crafting. Since it is a fun activity, it makes for the perfect team building, or team bonding activity. Sports teams, co-workers, even friends can get together and engage in the creative process.


8) Finishing touches. A final step to think about are any add-ons or other design elements. If you are creating this shirt for a work event, maybe add your company logo or motto. For a sports team, a jersey number or nickname could be a great addition. If it’s for you or your friends, sign each other’s shirts, or even doodle. Whatever you want – anything goes for tie-dye!

Want a TON of Tie Dye Shirt Ideas? Check These Out.

Hopefully these steps for tie dye what you need to know guide you in how to tie-dye a shirt, a pair of shorts, a headband, or even your shoes. Whatever colors or designs you choose, the fun is in the activity itself, so don’t be afraid to be bold and get creative!

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