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Tie dye has made a huge comeback this spring. Instead of paying for overpriced Urban Outfitters or for fast fashion Forever 21 items, why not try and make your own?

The “crumple” tie dye method and pattern is extremely popular, as well as tie dye sweatsuits. I decided to try and make my own crumple tie-dyed sweatshirt, but this tutorial will work for other clothing items as well!

Materials

  • Dye
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic gloves
  • Something to tie dye (should be at least 50% cotton)
  • Something to hold your items while they soak

I bought a Tulip One-Step Tie Dye kit which came with 18 different colors, as well as plenty of rubber bands, many plastic gloves, and a plastic sheet. As of today (June 17th, 2020) this specific kit is not available but that may change.

Other options that are available right now are different four pack varieties of colors from Tulip, as well as the gloves and rubber bands.

tie dye kit

For the clothing items, I bought two white crewneck sweatshirts which are 50% cotton and 50% polyester. The closer to 100% cotton an item is, the better the fibers will hold the dye.

A better option for summer would be white t-shirts.

I used glass Pyrex baking dishes to hold my dyed items while they soaked. Another option is to use aluminum foil pans.

Step 1: Prep the items

Start by pre-washing your clothing items to remove sizing (if they are brand new). This will help the dye stay in the fabric. You can dry the items or leave them damp for dying. I dyed mine while they were dry because I read that dying damp clothes will lead to more vibrant colors.

Step 2: Choose a pattern and colors

Choose a pattern and color(s) for your items. There are many different tie dye patterns including the classic spiral, vertical stripes, a bullseye, and crumple. I used the crumple tie dye pattern for my sweatshirts with two colors per shirt.

You need to be careful which colors you put next to each other because you may end up making brown when they mix. A good rule of thumb is to not mix colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

I used purple and blue for one sweatshirt and yellow and pink for the other one.

Step 3: Start tying!

Some tie dye patterns require you to tie in a specific way, but the crumple technique is really up to you.

For my sweatshirts, I started by crumpling up the arms and securing them with rubber bands. Then I crumpled two sections on the bottom, and then two on the top. To finish it all off, I pulled all the sections together and tied them with a couple rubber bands.

I found that the thick rubber bands provided by the kit were really hard to stretch far enough to contain the thick sweatshirt material. If you are dying something more lightweight, like a t-shirt, this step should be easier.

Step 4: Prep the dyes!

For the Tulip brand dyes, the dyes come as a powder inside their respective bottles. All you have to do is fill up to the line on the bottle with water and shake.

Make sure you take the time to fully dissolve the dye because little flecks of powdered dye can be left undissolved and can make dark spots on your items.

If you want your colors to be less vibrant and make them more pastel, you can put the dye in a larger bottle and dilute it with more water.

Step 5: Start dying!

Set up your clothing items in their respective dishes and start dying! Make sure you have protective gloves on to prevent your hands from getting stained.

For the crumple tie dye pattern you don’t need to be too careful about where the dye goes. I tried to keep mine relatively separate by not directly putting one dye on top of another.

For the blue and purple sweatshirt I used almost all of the dye and stuck the tips of the bottles into the different folds to cover a lot of the sweatshirt. I ended up leaving no white spots on the sweatshirt.

For the yellow and pink sweatshirt I mainly covered the outside sections of fabric, leaving more white sections that were hidden in the inside folds.

tie dye bottles after using the crumple tie dye method

Step 6: Soak time

After you’re done dying your items, leave them to soak in the dye. The longer they soak, the more vibrant the colors will be.

I wanted lighter colors so I let the purple and blue sweatshirt soak for 4 hours (wish I had only done somewhere around 2.5 hrs) and the yellow and pink one sit for around 6 hours.

If you want brighter colors, somewhere around 24 hours of soak time is recommended.

crumple tie dye sweatshirts soaking stage

Step 7: Rinse and wash

Once your item(s) are done soaking, take off the rubber bands and rinse out any excess dye using cold water. Since I had used a lot of dye (especially with the blue and purple sweatshirt) this step took a decent amount of time.

Once most of the excess dye is gone, wash your item(s) separately with warm to hot water and then dry them at least partially in the dryer.

These are the final looks of my two sweatshirts after going through the wash a few times! The pink and yellow one turned out more splotchy/blobby than I would’ve liked. I do love the blue and purple color combination, although I realized I had used a little too much purple dye.

Inspiration

I was heavily inspired by Youtubers (I guess you could say I was *influenced* by influencers), especially LaurDIY. This video on tie dying 5 sweatshirts should help inspire you with color choices and show you the whole process in video form.

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