#1 Upcycle Sunday - Repurpose Tie-Dye


You know what's in style these days? Tie-Dye! But you may not have realised that it has been around for centuries. The earliest examples of tie-dying date back to 5th century China and Japan, when natural dyes derived from berries, leaves roots and flowers were used on garments. These days, we see this trend being sported by social media influencers all over the place, but don't worry if you're just getting started with the fad; according to experts, there is no right or wrong approach to dye your clothes.

Tie-dye clothing became fashionable in the late 1960s among rock musicians as a protest against war. It can be seen on tshirts, dresses, skirts, and jeans to make them stand out from the crowd.


If you are keen to bring your wardrobe new life, follow these simple steps...


1. Prepare your garment, tie dye colours and rubber bands.  

 Make sure to soak your garment in a soda ash solution for at least 24 hours before the tie-dye process. We're using a 100% cotton fabric garment soaked in soda ash solution and I have removed the label because I like to put on a fresh white label after the dyeing process. I also buy a sachet of dye and put it in a sauce bottle and fill it up with water all the way. I dilute the dye in a sauce bottle and it lasts me for so long. Whenever the diluted dye is halfway, I usually fill it with water again it would still work well. If the diluted dye has been stuck in a bottle for quite some time now, just give it a good shake and it's ready to be used again. Rubber bands are necessary with the patterns we will create as it will help us in creating the white negative space that gives off the tie-dye effect. 


After gathering the materials, squeeze the soda ash solution and lay the garment flat on a surface. 



2. Start folding the fabric 


There are different methods of folding the fabric and each one will create a different pattern. 


We could grab the center of the fabric and twist. This is like your traditional, wood stock, 70s-like, when you see a t-shirt and it got a big spiral, this is how it’s done. Super easy, this is why you do it on a flat surface. You can just twist it and then you pretty much shake the fabric and you can just go like this and that’s what you need to do and you get your dye and just do cross colours and you can mix it up and keep on drawing crosses.

The other method you could do is a folding technique. When the fabric is damp, it’s so easy to fold. You can do lines if you like. 

The pattern that I'll be doing for today is, do like a bit of a twist and secure it with a rubber band tightly. The more tight you secure the fabric, the more white negative space you’re gonna have later which is really cool. 




You want to make it all even if you can. I usually do the head of the garment, sleeve, sleeve, body, and then the base. If you wrap the entire garment and then you have one sleeve left, you can do that but you have to come in terms that, that sleeve will be very different design than the rest of the body so keep that in mind.   


Make sure that the rubber bands won’t come undone because we’re going to pop the garment in the washing machine and we could always add more elastic. 

3. Let's start dyeing 


Usually, I like to start with brighter colours and then I go on with darker colours. The darker colours will blend nicely into the lighter colours, this is also why you have to choose your colours very carefully. With tie-dye you have to make sure that any colour would be able to blend into the next colour.


So, if you are looking at colour wheel, use colours that are very close together, unless you are willing to accept a new colour, like yellow and blue of course are gonna have green. You can also experiment with that.

I’m going to use a very popular colour palette called "Tequila Sunrise", and it’s got orange, pink and yellow which is gonna be the perfect blending between both. You want to make sure that you have some light colours and dark colours. You can apply the lighter colour by making it more diluted.



I always start with the very lightest colour. That could be the most diluted colour or lightest colour. This is the other thing, when you make this bundles in the middle is sometimes called the dark bits because we’re gonna get a strong, textured print and on the outside these areas where the fabric’s kind of shaping-- going from one bundle to the next, just do light colours because I sometimes accidentally go in dark colours in this area where not much twisting is happening and you just get like if it’s a dark colour you just get a big blob of dark colour. Keep all of your dark colours to those areas where there’s a lot of scrunch that’s happening and you’re going to be able to create lots of fun print-like patterns.

 Be careful in these sauce bottles the colours just shoots out sometimes so-- this is dye so don’t do it on your cream carpet as it would literally won’t come out. Do it on a surface that’s like plastic, do it on tiles, on places that you can wash off or places that you don’t care if it gets dyed. Sometimes I dye over a dry cloth and it collects these fun patterns and then later I actually use that dry cloth to make clothing out of it. It’s pretty fun and you can literally that is called minimizing waste to the max like you’re literally catching the dyes from the garment to make new clothing.   


Don’t forget the back as well. People dye the front, leave it overnight, come back in the morning it’s like, “Uh oh.” that’s all like white. You can make this entire blob completely multi-coloured. Don’t worry about leaving any white stains on here. I’m always generous with my lighter colours and then I’ll just have to be careful with my darker colours. 

I’m going on with orange now. If I could use any colour to tie dye for the rest of my life, it would be this orange. It’s the best. Keep in your mind to keep things balanced. You don’t wanna do all orange on one side. You wanna make sure that orange goes over all the garments and be wary of the colour, what colours you wanna have on the colour-- do you wanna have all of them?


Then you can also start to just inject a bit of colour, just let it soak in there. It’s quite cool so now, I love tie-dyeing. It’s actually so much fun. I probably went overboard with orange but you know, like I said, I love it.


Next, I’m gonna do is pink. Yay! So now this is my darkest colour in this blend and so, I’m going to make sure-- see how this 5 sections. Remember I said the arms, body, and the colour? So when we unravel the garment later you will be able to see pink, a nice balance of shade going through the entire piece. You don’t want heaps and heaps of pink on the right of the colour and nothing on the rest of the garment so that’s all. You know, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t tie dye your favourite piece first. Have some practice runs with some pieces that you know, you’re not afraid to stop up and probably give them away. Sometimes you tie dye something and you’re like, “Wow! This is a really nice tie-dye.” I struggle like putting them out on the rack and going because I’m like, “Aww, will I ever make another tie - dye like that again?” but I’m so happy to find tie dye going to some great homes and thank you for everyone showing me.


 It’s completely tie-dyed and I’m going to leave that overnight and tomorrow we’re going to unwrap it. Once you put all of the tie dye into the garment, you’re gonna have to leave it for at least 24 hours. You can leave it in the sink, you can leave it in the bath, you can leave it in the tub which is what I’m going to do. Leave it somewhere where it can drip and it’s not gonna ruin anything.     


So, you've learned how to create a tie-dyed shirt! But it doesn't stop there. The world of tie dye is actually huge when you explore all the things that can be dyed with these techniques - from socks and hats to bathing suits and pillowcases. There are so many possibilities for your next project!

Tie-dye old clothes instead of buying new ones is indeed a very ethical choice you should be proud of! This practice is both eco–friendly and affordable, since you are saving money from buying new clothes: what could be better than finding new clothes directly in your closet? Through this up-cycle, you can give old garments a second life.

Share your creations and tag us @hew_clothing