How to Tie Dye Shirts with Food Coloring at Home

Have you ever wondered how most fashion designers excel at their jobs, well it’s because they know how to create and recreate. With a bit of outside the box thinking so can you.

Anyways, with the Covid-19 pandemic keeping everyone indoors you probably want something to keep you busy. So, how about making a tie dye shirt?

No need to buy new clothes for such a project. If you have dresses or shirts in your closet which are no longer used, you can rummage through, take out the ones that you no longer use and then decide to restore the pieces you would use to your current wardrobe.

If you want to create your own custom designs for shirts, then tie dyeing is perfect for you.

Tie dye T-shirts were popular back in the sixties and seventies and are once again gaining popularity. All it takes to make them is a little imagination and you can create your very own tie-dye shirts.

What you will need:

  • Food coloring
  • White t-shirts or shirts
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber bands

Without further ado here’s how to tie dye.

Usually, the best way to tie dye a shirt is to soak it in a soda ash solution.


1. Use a squeeze cap water bottle, a mayonnaise or mustard bottle can also be used to mix the dye. Pour 1/2 cup of water and 9 or 10 drops of food coloring into the water bottle. Shake it really well and let it sit.

Note; Use different bottles for each tie dye color.

2. Now, take out the shirt or T-shirt and put it in a pail of water. Make sure to squeeze the water from the T-shirt well.

3. If you want to do the spiral design, then the best way to do it, is to spread the T-shirt/shirt on a flat surface like a table or slab with the back facing upwards.

If you want the spiral to start from the middle, place a small stick the size of a butter knife in the middle of the T-shirt or shirt and start spinning. Spin the shirt/T-shirt until it’s all wound up.

Do the same for any other desired starting point. Make sure you put enough pressure so you have a grip on both sides of the damp shirt/T-shirt, but not so much that you poke a hole through it.

4. Wrap the shirt/T-shirt with about 3 or 4 rubber bands with the bands spaced out evenly. Once you do, pour the dye on the shirt.

5. Add enough soda ash to half a pail of water. Then stir the it well and allow the soda ash solution to mix properly. Now, put the shirt in the bucket containing the soda ash solution. Leave it for about 30 minutes.

6. When the time is up, remove the shirt and squeeze out all of the water. Do not rinse the shirt/T-shirt yet.

7. Now, this is the messy part. Cover the table or flat surface with a plastic wrap. Take out the bottles of dye and start applying it to your shirt/T-shirt. Color everything if you don’t want any white patterns on the shirt/T-shirt to show.

8. Use another plastic bag and cover your shirt up for 3 – 4 hours. However, if you want your shirt to be more intense, and not fade, then its best to wait 24 hours.

9. After a full day, rinse the shirt thoroughly with water, removing all the excess dye.

Next remove the rubber bands around the shirt, dry it in the sunlight, or put it in a dryer. Do not mix it with any other clothing. Once it’s dry, you can marvel at your own homemade tie dye T-shirt.

10. To make other designs like the sunbursts design, spread the shirt on a table or flat surface, pinch the points you want a different color for and tie rubber bands at the ends to make them look like small hills on your shirt. Then dye the tips of the “hills”.

Now dye the rest of the shirt a different color. Leave for 24 hours, rinse, dry and that’s it. Another homemade tie dye T-shirt.

To make the stripes pattern, spread the shirt on a table or flat surface. Start at the end on the T-shirt/Shirt and then roll it upwards.

Next tie with a rubber band to separate the different colors, dye the rest of the T-shirt with the desired colors. Leave for 24 hours, rinse, dry. Now that’s the best way to tie dye a shirt.

If you don’t get the desired look right the first time, don’t worry try again another time and sooner than later you will master it.


Tell us your ideas about colorful outfits in the comments below! You can also check our other articles by clicking here:

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