So you want to DIY your own tie-dyed clothes, bedding, or fabric? Brilliant! My How to Tie-Dye Like a Pro guide walks you through all the steps you need to learn how to tie-dye your own beautiful patterns.
This post will help you collect your essential tie-dye supplies – just the basics to get you started, with plenty of tips for setting up cheaply and using stuff you already own.
View the rest of the articles:
- Choosing the best dye for tie-dye
- Essential tie-dye supplies (right here!)
- Choosing the best fabric for tie-dye
- 10 easy tie-dye patterns for beginners (coming soon)
- Mixing and applying dye (coming soon)
- How to wash tie-dye (coming soon)
Want to get email notifications of new posts and videos? Sign up to join the Dye Club!
Essential tie-dye supplies
OK, you’ve chosen your dye, let’s round up the rest of the essential tie-dyeing equipment!
If you bought a Tulip One-Step kit you’ll already have most of this – skip ahead to Racks and Trays, and see what you need from there on.
1. Something to apply dye
Squirt or squeeze bottles are the obvious choice. You can definitely use your old sauce bottles – the ones that have a screw-top opening are perfect.
If you purchase bottles, try to get some that have a small opening (easier to manage dye) and are made from squishy plastic (easier on your hands).
Needle-nose bottles are fantastic if you’d like to do really precise patterns or you have unsteady hands.
You may also need a small funnel to pour the dye into your squeeze bottles. I mix my dyes in a measuring cup with a spout, which makes filling the bottles easy.
I also use syringes (what can I say, I’m a nurse) and they work really well, especially for fiddly parts where dye application needs to be precise, like the centre of a tie-dyed spiral. Watch Gabrielle tie-dye with syringes here.
2. Rubber bands or string
Rubber bands are the traditional way to tie tie-dye. I always use natural coloured or white because I don’t want colour from the bands bleeding onto my dyes.
You can use any sort of string. Kite string, reusable zip ties, and artificial sinew are all popular. Acrylic yarn works quite well too as a budget option (and you can see it in many of my videos) – just remember, WHITE!
3. Racks and trays
You’ll also need something to sit your items on while you dye them.
It’s best if the dye can drain as you apply it – otherwise you might flip your item and find an unpleasant muddy-looking mess on the bottom.
You can use old oven racks, fridge shelves, cake racks, bits of wire mesh. Recycling is always best – just remember you CAN’T ever use it for food again.
A lot of dye will drip out underneath, so don’t put the rack straight onto your kitchen bench!
Sit the rack on a tray, or use an old plastic table that you can hose off. Put newspaper underneath to soak up any drips.
If you don’t have anything and don’t want to buy racks you can dye straight onto layers of newspaper or paper towel. Just remember to change it when it gets saturated and put something waterproof underneath if you need to protect the surface.
Other tie-dye equipment
You’ll also need a few other bits and pieces.
- Gloves – wear these all the time. I reuse this and prefer clear, so I can see if one has a hole.
- Mask – you already have some of these, right?! Wear when handling powdered dye or soda ash.
- Sodium carbonate, aka soda ash – This helps bind the dye. Often found in the laundry aisle or with pool chemicals.
- bucket or 10+ litre container for your soda ash soak
- measuring cup – this one makes accurate measuring easy
- teaspoon or measuring spoons – try to get a set with 1/8 teaspoon included
- plastic bags – use whatever you have lying around. I collect all our packaging and reuse it.
- light-coloured washable marker – seriously, a child’s cheap marker is fine. Any water-based marker should wash out, but test first to be safe.
Plus some good music, an audiobook, or a podcast. I love Chillhop for chill background vibes, ABC Conversations for interesting life stories, and Patient Zero because I’m a public health nerd.
Let me know your favourite background sounds for creating!
OK, you’ve now chosen your dyes AND you’ve got your essential tie-dye supplies. Progress!
Now it’s time to Choose your clothes or fabric to tie-dye. Will you have rainbow bedding? A hoodie? Or stick to the tried-and-tested tie-dye shirts?
Have fun! If you need to know anything else about how to tie-dye please just ask and I’ll update the instructions.
I’d LOVE to see what you create with these tutorials. Please tag @dyediyhq on Facebook or Instagram and I’ll check it out, comment, and share.