How To Tie Dye Clothes – Choosing The Best Fabric & Dye

May 15, 2018 4 min read

If you’re a follower of fashion trends, you may have noticed the increasing popularity of tie-dye on the cat walks. Fashion is having a love affair with colour and pattern, and is embracing bright tie dye colour combinations, as well as more muted tie dye designs. Tie dye is appearing on a range of t shirts, jackets and street wear, as well as baby and kids clothes.

I frequently receive inquiries from kids clothing designers wanting to purchase wholesale children’s clothing, kids blank t shirts, blank baby onesies, slouch rompers, long back tees, long sleeve tees, and crew necks for dyeing. Recently, more of those inquiries have been from designers wanting to tie dye.

If you’re intending to use tie dyeing in your designs, selecting the right fabric and the best dye for your project will ensure you get the best results. We’ve scoured some of the tie dyeing experts to provide answers to some of the common questions asked about successful tie dyeing. Baby Blanks manufactures a range of high quality blank clothing for tie dye.

Quick Tips For Tie Dye:

  1. Natural fabrics are best for tie dyeing.

  2. Fibre reactive dyes are recommended for achieving the best results on natural fabrics.

  3. Always wash new garments before dyeing.

  4. There are different methods of tie dyeing, including immersion (tub) dyeing and direct dyeing.

  5. Using high quality dye should provide colour fast results on t shirts that can be machine washed.

What is tie dye?

Tie dyeing is a process of dyeing fabric that involves folding, knotting, twisting, tying or even sewing into the cloth before dyeing, to produce different patterns. When the fabric is placed in a dye bath or dye applied directly, the colour penetrates the fabric in different amounts. The parts that are folded up inside the fabric receive less colour or no colour at all. The parts that are more exposed to the dye receive more of the colour. This creates the distinctive tie dye patterns. Designs vary, depending on the way the fabric is tied and twisted and can include star bursts, circles, and angular patterns.

 

What fabric is best for tie dye? – natural fibres, like cotton, linen, and silk are recommended for tie dyeing

 

Which fabric is best for tie dye?

The best fabrics to use to tie dye are natural fabrics, including cotton, linen, hemp, rayon and silk. The threads of these natural fibres are made from cellulose (plant fibre). Cellulose fibres react with fibre reactive dyes to get good, strong colours that are permanent.

Many clothes that are commonly chosen for dyeing include t shirts, long sleeve tops and hoodies. The best fibre composition is 95 – 100% cotton for successful tie dyeing results.

Fibre mixes of 50% cotton/50% polyester are not recommended for achieving a good depth of colour or colour fastness. Polyester is generally not a good choice for tie dyeing. It requires special dispersion dyes used in very hot water for the colour to successfully take.

Dyeing With Natural Fibres

Natural fabrics that have cellulose fibres will achieve different results, depending on the thickness of the thread and the type of weave. Thick, courser weave fabrics, like some linens, may dry to a colour that is a lot lighter than when it is first dyed. A silk, with fine, closely woven threads will dye to a strong, rich colour. High quality cotton jersey will absorb colours well, producing bright, colourfast results.

What kind of dye do you use for tie dye?

The type of dye you choose will depend upon the depth of colour you want, the type of fabric you use and the type of design you want to achieve.

Fibre reactive dyes are the most recommended dyes to use on natural fibres to get strong colours and permanent colour-fast results.

What is a fiber reactive dye?

Fibre reactive dyes work the best on natural fibres. They react with the cellulose fibres in the fabric to create a permanent bond. They are considered the highest quality dyes to use for permanent results on natural fabrics. Fibre reactive dyes are used in cold or luke warm water. They do not require very hot water to fix the dye.

 

How to tie dye clothes – fibre reactive dyes achieve quality, colour fast results for tie dyeing

 

How is dye applied in tie dyeing?

There are different ways to apply the dye when tie dyeing. These include immersing the fabric in a dye bath, or applying the dye directly to the fabric. One of the most common methods for tie dyeing is applying the dye directly to the fabric and allowing the fabric dye to ‘cure’ for up to 24 hours inside a plastic bag.

Depending on the method used, tie dyeing can involve the use of other chemicals and ‘fixers’, including soda ash (sodium carbonate), salt, or urea.

Procion MX dyes are highly regarded fibre reactive dyes that are recommended to achieve bright colours and long lasting colour for tie dyeing projects.

Is it better to dye shirts wet or dry?

For tie dyeing on natural fibres, like cotton, the t shirt or top should be washed first and should be damp when applying the dye. Make sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for any chemical fixatives that the garment should be soaked in prior to applying the dye.

All new blank t shirts should be washed first, before dyeing. This gets rid of any chemicals associated with the manufacturing that may interfere with the dyeing process.

How do you wash a tie dye shirt for the first time?

If good quality dye is used, a good quality natural fabric is chosen, and all the recommended steps in the dyeing process are taken, tie dyeing will produce excellent, colour fast results that are durable and can be machine washed. If unsure, wash the t shirt separately for the first wash to check for results.

Tell us about your results

Do you tie dye on kids or baby clothes? If so we’d love to see your designs. Tell us about your experience and what worked best.

Baby Blanks sells a range of high quality, durable cotton t shirts, crew necks, long sleeve tees, hoodies and bodysuits, that are perfect for tie dyeing and for your latest clothing design.