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How to Prepare Fabric for Tie Dyeing

Learn how to prepare fabric for tie dyeing in this Howcast video.


I'm going to show you now how to prepare the fabric and how to dye it using the squeeze bottles.

So first you want to prepare what we call the activator solution. And that will just be a solution with washing soda or soda ash. Normally you would mix 9 teaspoons per gallon of water , since I have a little bit less than a gallon of water I'm going to adapt my recipe and that's what you should do.

Again I'm going to dissolve my washing soda into hot water because it doesn't like to be dissolved in cold water. So I'm going to add 3 teaspoons because I think I have a third of a gallon. And I'm going to make sure it's fully dissolved before adding my fabric to it. I'm just like whisking it to make sure it's fully dissolved. Soda ash or washing soda can be a little tricky and you don't want to enter your fabric before it's fully dissolved. I think now it's good actually.

So I pre-wetted my fabric which is also like bundled for tie dying already. So make sure that you wet it and then you want to put it in the dye activator solution and let it sit from 5-10 minutes. So I'm just going to make sure it's fully immersed and then I'm going to wait 5 minutes before I take it out.

After 5 minutes your fabric's soaked all of the activator solution that it needed so you can remove it from the activator solution and just wring the excess out. I'm wringing it out and I'm going to move my dye activator solution aside so I have a nice clean surface to dye.

So then I prepared 3 colors in the squeeze bottles and I'm going to show you how then look. So I have the yellow that is pretty light. And I have a berry color that is actually pretty concentrated so I think will go well with the yellow. And there's also some green. I really like using the paper towels to test the colors. This is actually really useful too to see how the two colors will blend because just because the two colors look pretty next to each other doesn't mean the mix of both when you're putting in the fabric will look pretty so make sure you test your colors before putting them in the fabric side by side or you might end up with really ugly results that you don't want.

This technique is really cool because it allows you to apply as many colors as you want, at once, in the fabric so you can get really beautiful results. So I tied my fabric into sections and my plan is to dye each section in one color and have them in the middle just mix with each other. Maybe in the middle section I'll just also mix with them.

So with the squeeze bottles you pretty much just apply the dye directly into the fabric and you can have the control of how much you want to add. So for instance if you like some of the white to appear you can also do that. Otherwise, if you want all the parts that you're dying to be pretty saturated make sure that you add a lot of dye but also you can work the dye into the fabric with your hands.

So my first yellow section is dyed and I think next to the yellow I'm going to put the green. And maybe in this section I'm actually going to mix the green and the yellow at the same time so you can see that you can apply them both and kind of get this marbled effect. And I'm going to flip it and do the same thing on the other side. So this is my green and yellow marbled. And maybe next to it I'm going to do just green and I think I'll end up with the berry color.

Again, working the dye into the fabric to make sure that all of the layers got dyed. And I guess the last one I'll do yellow too.

So at this point you applied all the dye and your fabric will need to rest to fix the dye into the fabric. This process we call the curing process and we normally recommend from 4-24 hours just resting and curing. For the curing process you want your fabric to remain wet so it's a good idea to just wrap it in a plastic bag or saran wrap and just let it sit. After the curing process, 4 hours, you can just rinse your fabric and the dye should be fixed. And it's all ready to go.

So this is how you tie dye using squeeze bottles.

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