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How to Create Tie Dye Words & Patterns Using Glue

Learn how to create tie dye words and patterns using glue in this Howcast video.


I'm going to show you how to create shapes and words and whatever images you want using Elmer's glue. This is not really tie dye but a variation, but its a really fun project and I'm sure you'll like it. All you need is fabric and plain old, white glue and a paintbrush, and then some dye, of course. You want to start by pre-activating your fabric by soaking it in the soda wash or washing soda solution and then drying it.

This is again a dry technique. With a paintbrush, after you did all of that, you want to start painting with glue the areas that you want your pattern to appear white. So for instance, if I want to make a heart, and if I want my heart to be white, I would paint my heart with the glue. Making sure that you really go over the fabric and that the glue goes through all the layers and all the fibers. If it's helpful you can also trace your pattern before you start applying the glue, with a pencil or a disappearing marker.

I'm just going freestyle here. So I have my first heart and I could just make as many as I want or make other shapes if I wanted to. For instance, if I wanted an X too, that's my X. And then you could continue until you've covered all the surface of the fabric. Once you did one side and one side is totally dry, you would then flip it and do the same thing on the other side.

For this technique to work you really need to apply on both sides. Especially on thicker fabrics, because otherwise the dye will just run on the back of the fabric. So I'm going to continue making my pattern and I'll show to dye it in a little bit. You don't really need to use Elmer's glue. You can use any kind of white glue that is water soluble.

The trick here is that you want to use a glue that is resistant enough while dry to prevent the dye from getting to the surfaces that you've covered, but you also want to use a glue that its possible to remove once you're done with the dying. So no Super Glue, but maybe you can test a couple of glues before you engage on your final project.

After you're done painting your pattern with glue, we want to make sure that is completely dry. I normally use a blow dryer to just speed dry it. But really make sure that all the layers are dried and they're not sticky. Then you can feel that its dry when it becomes really crunchy, almost paper-like. I'm going to use red color and a paintbrush.

The trick with the dying is even though the glue will be somehow resistant, you don't want to insist with your paintbrushes in the areas where that you put glue. So you are going to somehow try to go around and you'll see the pattern appearing at the same time. You can see the hearts and the X's that I was doing before are not getting dyed, because the glue is preventing the dye from running there.

So actually if you watch closely you can see it. I missed a heart here, but hopefully my glue will be enough. So I'm painting this one, but you could also dunk it in a dye bath, as long as the water is pretty cold and in that case you really want to make sure that you remove it after one hour, because otherwise the glue might start to soften and you'll lose your pattern.

You could also use a spray bottle for a different effect. After you're done painting, all you need to do is wrap it with a plastic bag and let it cure for 4 to 24 hours and then you have to rinse it really well. The dye will rinse pretty fast, but the glue will be harder to remove.

So really insist on those areas and make sure you remove all the glue. Maybe you'll want to use some soap and some warm water, as well. And this will be your final result, and this is how you can do hearts and stars or any shapes that you want using Elmer's glue on fabric.

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