Bringing "Tie-dye" Back

Tie-dye is a style that comes and goes - it’s been coming and going for centuries actually. If you’ve shopped in any stores lately, you’ve surely noticed it’s on the upswing again.

When most people think of tie dye they think of the 1960’s; Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead concerts or Janis Joplin, dressed head-to-toe in tie-dye.

Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead Janis Joplin

It’s not a trend that started in the 60’s. Tie-dye has been in American culture since the 1920’s. But let’s be honest, America can’t exactly take credit for this trend. You can’t even call it a “trend” anymore. It’s an iconic style that becomes super trendy certain decades.

Tie-dye exists in some form in virtually every culture in the world. The earliest written records of tie-dye come from China and Japan between 618 and 906 C.E. As early as the 6th century, Indian people were practicing a type of tie-dye.

In 2019, tie-dye has been spotlighted on both the spring and fall fashion runways. Take a look at some of the most recent styles.

The designers will charge you hundreds of dollars for a tie-dyed sweater or t-shirt. We’ve been tie-dying since we were kids right? So do it yourself and you can come up with a lot of different versions than the typical spiral tie-dye. I used an old white t-shirt that was stained and then I bought some white and black t-shirts for $2-$4 dollars. The tie-dye kits cost me $5 a color. You can click on this video to watch the process or read below.


In order to reverse tie-dye, you need to work with a dark colored t-shirt instead of a white t-shirt. I used black but you can use navy blue, dark purple, etc. We rolled up the t-shirt from the bottom and then folded it in half and put three rubber bands on. This will create a “retro style” tie-dye look. Once you put the rubber bands on then we poured bleach near each of the rubber bands. We decided to stop there. But if you wanted, you could also pour another dye on the part that was bleached.


So in order to this style, you need to grab a bunch of rocks. Lay the rocks down, put the t-shirt over the top of the rocks. Then just randomly tie a rubber band around the t-shirt surrounding each rock. Keep doing it until you have several rocks tied with rubber bands. I took two colors, black and yellow. Put the darker color on the lower area in between the rocks, but the lighter color on top of the rocks.


For this style, you fold your t-shirt into thirds, until you have one long thin line, then you fold the t-shirt almost like you folded a flag when you were a kid. Fold it in triangles, until you have one thick triangle. Then you cut a piece of cardboard or plastic into a triangle and put it on the front and back side of the shirt folded in a triangle and then rubber band it tight. Then take the entire shirt and dip it into a bowl of dye. Then once it’s dry unfold it. I like the way this looked as soon as I unfolded it but when I washed it you could barely see the triangles. It just looked light blue. So I ended up adding a dark blue dye and doing the same technique as above, with the rocks and rubber bands. More proof you can't go wrong. If you don't like something just do it again.


So for this style, you need any old string or shoelace. Take the shoelace and lay it at the very bottom of your t-shirt. Then roll the t-shirt around the shoelace until it becomes one thin roll. (it’ll look like a worm) Then take both ends of the shoelaces and tie them together to make a circle. Make sure you squeeze the shirt tight to make as small of a circle as you can.

Then just take one color and soake the circle with your one dye. Then wait four hours and until the shoelace and unroll the shirt.

You can do this with t-shirts and tank tops in the summer. But there are a million different tie-dye techniques. Try them on sweatshirts and sweaters for the fall. Even shorts, pants, skirts. If you have an old black skirt or an old white shirt that might get thrown out because of stains, try upcycling them and tie-dying them instead of throwing them out.

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