Tie-dye used as stage decor, Snoqualmie Moondance festival (1992)

Tie-dye is a process of resist dyeing textiles or clothing which is made from knit or woven fabric, usually cotton; typically using bright colors. It is a modern version of traditional dyeing methods used in many cultures throughout the world.[1] "Tie-dye" can also describe the resulting pattern or an item which features this pattern. Tie-dyeing became fashionable in the West in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of hippie style. It was popularized in the United States by musicians such as John Sebastian, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead [2] and Joe Cocker.



Tie-dyeing is accomplished by folding the material into a pattern, and binding it with string or rubber bands. Dye is then applied to only parts of the material. The ties prevent the entire material from being dyed. Designs are formed by applying different colors of dyes to different sections of the wet fabric. A wet t-shirt is much easier to use rather than just dying on a dry t-shirt. Once complete, the material is rinsed, and the dye is set.


An example of a tie dyed t-shirt

Although many different kinds of dyes may be used, most tie-dyers now dye with Procion MX fiber reactive dyes.[3] This class of dyes works at warm room temperatures. The molecules permanently bind with cellulose based fibers (cotton, rayon, hemp, linen), as well as silk, when the pH is raised. Soda ash (sodium carbonate) is generally used to raise the pH and is either added directly to the dye, or in a solution of water in which garments are soaked before dyeing. They do not fade with washing, but sunlight will cause the colors to fade over time. Place in the freezer over time.

Traditional tie-dye

The earliest surviving examples of pre-Colombian tie-dye in Peru date from 500 to 800A.D. Their designs include small circles and lines, with bright colors including red, yellow, blue, and green.[4]

Shibori includes a form of tie-dye that originated in Japan. It has been practiced there since at least the eighth century. Shibori includes a number of labor-intensive resist techniques including stitching elaborate patterns and tightly gathering the stitching before dyeing, forming intricate designs for kimonos. Another shibori method is to wrap the fabric around a core of rope, wood or other material, and bind it tightly with string or thread. The areas of the fabric that are against the core or under the binding would remain undyed.

Tie-dye techniques have also been used for centuries[citation needed] in the Hausa region of West Africa, with renowned indigo dye pits located in and around Kano, Nigeria. The tie-dyed clothing is then richly embroidered in traditional patterns. It has been argued that the Hausa techniques were the inspiration for the hippie fashion[citation needed].

Plangi and tritik are Indonesian words, derived from japanese words, for methods related to tie-dye, and bandhna is a term from India, giving rise to the Bandhani fabrics of Rajasthan. Ikat is a method of tie-dyeing the warp or weft before the cloth is woven.

Tie-dyeing was known in the US by 1909.[5] Later in the 20th Century, tie-dye became associated with the Hippie movement.

Mudmee tie-dye

Mudmee tie-dye - Thailand

Mudmee tie-dye is mainly created in Thailand and neighboring part of Laos. It uses different shapes and colors than other types of tie-dye, and the colors are, in general, more subdued. Another difference is that the base color is black.

Folds and patterns

Below is a list of common modern tie-dyeing folds and patterns.


The 'V' shape is achieved by folding a shirt in half vertically, then a line is drawn diagonally from the shoulder area down to the center fold of the shirt. The fabric is then accordingly folded along the line and bound into one or more areas to which the dye is applied. This will show in the shape of a 'V'.


This category can hold several different patterns, the majority of which have nothing to do with each other; they can be combinations or they can be as chaotic as bundling the item to be dyed.

Random circles

This effect is made by tying knots with string or elastic bands in different places. The more fabric that is tied, the larger the circles.

See also


  1. ^ Weinger, Erin (2003-05-29). "Psychedelic Beginnings". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/06/image/ig-lookback6. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  2. ^ "The Psychedelic Tie-Dye Look". Time. January 26, 1970. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,878729-1,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  3. ^ "What kinds of chemical bonds attach dyes to fibers?". http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/bonding.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  4. ^ "What is Synthrapol?". http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/synthrapol.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  5. ^ "What is soda ash, and what's it for in dyeing?". http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/sodaash.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  6. ^ "Fiber-reactive dyes". Tie-dye Wiki. http://tie-dyewiki.com/wikinew/index.php?title=Fiber-reactive_dyes. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  7. ^ "Amarras Replication Research Project". World Shibori Network. http://www.shibori.org/research/amreplicate.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. [dead link]
  8. ^ Pellew, Charles E.. "Tied and Dyed Work: An Oriental Process with American Variations". Craftsman, Vol. 16 (1909), p. 695-701. http://www.handweaving.net/DAItemDetail.aspx?ItemID=2934. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  9. ^ "More about Gigi's Thailand Trip". ThaiDye.com companion blog. http://www.thaitiedye.com/2007/12/22/more-about-gigis-thailand-trip/. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  10. ^ "Spiral". Tie-dye Wiki. http://tie-dyewiki.com/wikinew/index.php?title=Spiral. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • tie-dye — tie dyes, tie dyeing, tie dyed 1) VERB: usu passive If a piece of cloth or a garment is tie dyed, it is tied in knots and then put into dye, so that some parts become more deeply coloured than others. [be V ed] He wore a T shirt that had been tie …   English dictionary

  • tie-dye — [tī′dī΄] n. 1. a method of dyeing designs on cloth or thread by tightly tying bunches of it as with waxed thread so that the dye affects only exposed parts 2. cloth so decorated or a design so made vt. tie dyed, tie dyeing to dye in this way …   English World dictionary

  • tie-dye — tie′ dye v. dyed, dye•ing, n. 1) tex to dye (fabric) by the tie die method 2) tex a process of hand dyeing fabric, in which sections of the fabric are tightly bound, as with thread, to resist the dye solution, thereby producing a variegated… …   From formal English to slang

  • tie-dye — v [T] to make a pattern on a piece of material by tying string around it and colouring it with ↑dye (=coloured liquid) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • tie-dye — ► NOUN ▪ a method of producing textile patterns by tying parts of the fabric to shield it from the dye …   English terms dictionary

  • tie-dye — verb dye after knotting the fabric to produce an irregular pattern The flower children tie dye their T shirts • Hypernyms: ↑hand dye • Verb Frames: Somebody s something * * * ˈtie dye [tie dye tie dyes …   Useful english dictionary

  • tie-dye — /taɪ ˈdaɪ/ (say tuy duy) verb (t) (tie dyed, tie dyeing) 1. to create a variegated pattern in the dyeing of fabric by tying off various sections. –noun 2. the fabric so produced: a community of people wearing tie dye …   Australian English dictionary

  • tie-dye — adj. Tie dye is used with these nouns: ↑T shirt …   Collocations dictionary

  • tie-dye — /tuy duy /, v., dyed, tie dyeing, n. v.t. 1. to dye (fabric) by tie dyeing. n. 2. tie dyeing. 3. Informal. a fabric or garment dyed by tie dyeing. [1935 40] * * * …   Universalium

  • tie-dye — 1. verb To tie strings around (fabric or clothing) and then dye it, in such a manner that the tied parts do not get colored. 2. noun A shirt that has been tie dyed …   Wiktionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.