Tie-Dyeing Basics


Tie-dyeing is a simple way to create a unique, colourful effect on fabric and is also a great introduction to understanding the basics of home dyeing.

The first thing to remember when it comes to hand or machine dyeing is natural fabrics only! Cotton, linen and viscose will dye to the full shade, polyester/cotton and polyester/viscose mixes will dye to a lighter shade. Polyester, nylon and any other synthetic will not dye. If you want to dye wool or silk, I would recommend hand dyeing only, due to their more delicate nature! In a lot of cases, you will have a natural fibre fabric that has been stitched with a synthetic thread – the thread won’t dye so keep this in mind.

Next rule is to make sure you have the right amount of dye for your fabric. C & H stock Dylon dyes (the best of the best) and the each pack states how much fabric you can dye. Always weigh your fabric before purchasing the dye to ensure you buy the right amount.

The last basic rule is to remember that colour-mixing guidelines apply – for example, if you use a blue dye with a red fabric, it will come out purple! I always dye from plain white or ivory as it gives you the truest colour effect.

There are lots more do’s and don’ts and we have a fantastic helpful hints section on our website which is well worth checking if you are not sure – alternatively, ask one of our specialists in store!

Now the basics have been covered, I’ll take you through a simple tie-dyeing project. This is a fun way to add a new colour to a plain item and if you have older children and need a rainy day project, this will keep them amused – although I recommend adult supervision!!

I’m going to tie-dye a t-shirt with a circle effect using the submersion method (there are others, but I find this one easier). You will need:

Your fabric

Dylon hand dye (how many packs depends what you are dyeing).

250g salt


Plastic bowl/sink (I used an old washing up bowl)

Rubber gloves

Elastic bands/string (I used thin hair bands)

Wooden spoon or other stirring utensil (make it an old one as you won’t use it for cooking again!)

6 litres of warm water

Now for the method – first things first, wash your fabric and leave it damp.

Next, pinch the centre of your fabric and pull into a cone shape.

Tie Fabric

Use your bands or string to tie the fabric at intervals from the top down.

Now is the time to put your rubber gloves on! Take your jug and fill with 500ml of warm water. Pour in the hand dye and dissolve.

Fill your bowl or sink with 6 litres of warm water (it’s difficult to get the temperature right without a thermometer but you are aiming for 40 degrees celsius).

Add Salt

Add 250g of salt and stir.

Add Dye

Add your dye and stir until well mixed.

Submerge Fabric

Take your fabric and submerge in the dye mix. Now you need to stir continuously (and carefully!) for 15 minutes. I read a book while doing this, as 15 minutes can feel like a long time when you are stirring!

After 15 minutes, you then just need to stir regularly for 45 minutes. Once this is done, remove your fabric from the water (leave the bands/string on) and rinse thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear.

Now remove the ties and wash your fabric in warm water. Dry away from direct heat and sunlight and your fabric is ready to use.

It is recommended that you wash any dyed item separately for the first few washes, to ensure any excess dye is removed.


And there you have it! A sunny yellow t-shirt perfect for exploring in the forest – my daughter loves tie-dye effect and it’s so easy to create on natural home items, clothing and more. There are a whole range of beautiful shades from Dylon available on our website so you have plenty of choice and a colour for everyone!

Written by

Sarah, Web Assistant




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