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How to Create Tie Dye Patterns Using Tape

Learn how to create tie dye patterns using tape in this Howcast video.


One of my favorite ways to create stripes and lines is to just use masking tape. This is the only technique that I'll suggest that you don't start with your fabric wet, because it's really hard to stick tape on to wet fabric. So you want to pre-activate your fabric by soaking it in the soda ash dye activator solution and then you want to let it dry.

So my fabric has been activated already, and what I'm going to do, I'm just going to glue masking tape and create the patterns that I want with it. You want to make sure that the masking tape is adhering pretty well and you don't have any bubbles. I'm going to go for a mix of stripes and maybe a rectangular shape, too. And you can place the tape in any way that you wanted.

It is really your design. This is not going to be a very precise design, so maybe make sure that all your other lines and figures are like on the wider side. What I mean by precise is that the tape will cause some resistance to the dye, but you want to be totally blocking it, so some will seep through and so, you don't want to have two patterns close together.

After you're done with one side, you need to tape it on the same places on the other side. You need to do this because otherwise the dye will just run on the back of the fabric and you won't get any resistance at all. So I'm just redoing exactly the same ones that I did in the front, but in the back. It will be really easy to see them, and especially because I'm using this blue tape.

A couple more. This is a great way to combine with different dye applications. I'm going to apply the dye using painting, but you could use a spray bottle or just a squeeze bottle. You can't really put in an immersion vat, because the tape won't be strong enough to hold to the fabric, if its immersed in water. But otherwise you can apply the dye in multiple ways.

Okay, I'm done. I'm going to start applying my dye. So using a paintbrush, you always want to start pretty far away from the edges of your tape. You want to like see how the dye runs to it and you won't want to apply directly near the tape, because that will just make the resistance not work. So I'm going to start in the middle and you can see how the dye is running a little bit wider than my brush stroke, so I'm going to go a little closer to the tape, but not that close to it, and I'm going to wait to see if it gets there.

These corners ones are always tricky because you never know how close you can go. For bigger areas you could use a wider brush or even a foam brush, that will just make it go faster. Again remember to not go too close to the edges of the tape, and really watch for any bubbles that might happen, where the tape is not totally attached to the fabric.

I just wanted to remind you again, that instead of using the painting technique, you could be using a spray bottle or just a squeeze bottle directly or you could be using a foam brush. You'll get different effects by using any of those other techniques. After you've painted, you'll just cover it with a plastic bag, and let it cure for 4 to 24 hours. After that remove the tape, rinse it, and you see a pattern appear.

So I'm about to reveal our tape experiment. So I'm going to remove the tape slowly and you can see that even if some dye creeped through that most of the resistance was actually kept and we see our triangle and tri-pattern appearing. Let me just remove a couple more tapes and I'll show you the final results in one second.

Okay, and this is what the final result looks like. Again, you see that some of it creeped, but it's a little bit lighter, just like the color deconstructing. But it looks kind of cool and it is such an easy technique that you can quickly make to achieve any striping effect that you might want and this is how you can tie dye using tape.

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