5 Easy Tie-dye Patterns for T-Shirts

The beauty of tie-dyeing is the relative simplicity of the process. Now we are going to explain how to create tie-dye patterns

Previous Life Daily articles have explained how to do basic tie-dyeing, and some tie-dyeing techniques.

Now, we move on to a slightly more adventurous series of applications for producing different patterns and designs.

There is no need to fear that the pattern may not turn out exactly as you intended. Firstly, no-one will ever know and, secondly, you will have created something new, original, and unique.

Just remember to always wear rubber or latex gloves at all stages of the process. The dyes are very strong and will color anything they touch.

Important: To finish off the work, you have to carry out the following stages; be sure to add these to the instructions below:

  • Release ties and rinse until water runs clear.
  • Wash the T-shirt in warm water using a small amount of mild detergent.
  • Rinse thoroughly in cool water.
  • Gently squeeze out excess water by rolling shirt in a clean old towel.
  • Machine dry or hang to dry.

So, here are our selected tie-dye patterns to get you started:

1. Three-color or triple-dipped donut & rosettes

tie-dye pattern triple-dipped donut
  • For rosettes you need to pinch up a few large sections of the T-shirt.
  • Tie tightly at the base with string or rubber bands.
  • Create “donuts” by pushing the tip of some of the rosettes back through the rubber band.
  • Immerse the shirt in a dye-bath for 4 to 10 minutes. Start with lightest color.
  • Remove shirt from dye-bath and rinse under running cool water until water runs clear. Do not release ties.
  • Add a few more rosettes and donuts to the shirt.
  • Immerse the shirt in the next darkest color for 4 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Remove shirt from dye-bath and rinse under running cool water until water runs clear.
  • Do not release ties.
  • Create more rosettes and donuts.
  • Immerse in darkest color dye, then rinse under cool running water

2. Two-color marble

Tie-dye Pattern Two-color marbel
  • Crunch the T-shirt into a bundle.
  • Randomly stretch rubber bands around the T-shirt in a crisscross fashion.
  • Immerse the bundle in the dye. Stir with a spoon and turn the bundle for 4 to 15 minutes or until the color is a little darker than desired.
  • Remove T-shirt from dye-bath and rinse the bundle under cool running water until the water runs clear.
  • Cut ties and rinse until water runs clear. Gently squeeze out excess water with a towel.
  • Re-tie, tucking some of the colored sections into the middle of the bundle.
  • Repeat dyeing with the next darkest color. Rinse as above.

3. Three-color or tri-color dip dye

tri-color dip dye pattern
  • Tie the T-shirt crosswise tightly into thirds.
  • Dip one of the outside sections of the shirt into the dye bath to just below the first tie.
  • Without splashing, gently move the section around in dye bath for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove shirt from dye bath and rinse just the dyed portion with cool running water until water runs clear.
  • Squeeze out excess water.
  • Do not release ties.
  • Holding the shirt by the two outside sections, dip the center section of shirt in the next dye bath to just below the top and bottom ties.
  • Move section gently back and forth for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the just-dyed section as
  • Repeat on the last section of the shirt.

4. The Spiral

spiral tie-dye pattern
  • Lay the shirt flat on a flat surface. Pinch the center of the shirt with a clip-style clothes-pin, and then begin twisting the shirt somewhat tightly around the pin until it becomes a thick, flat disk.
  • Have a helper tie a 2-inch wide cloth strip around the outside edge of the disk. Remove the pin and tie two or three more cloth strips across the disk.
  • Dip half of the disk into the dye to just below the cloth strip across the center for 4 minutes.
  • Do not allow the dye to seep above the strip.
  • Remove shirt from dye-bath and rinse just the dyed portion with cool water until the water runs clear.
  • Gently squeeze out remaining water with a towel. Do not release ties.
  • Repeat with the second color, then with the third color, giving the disk a 1/4 turn each time, so that half of the first portion of the disk that was dyed and half of the remaining undyed portion of the disk will be immersed in the dye.

5. The Twist

tie-dye pattern The Twist
  • Starting with one corner, twist the entire shirt into a rope, then continue twisting until it curls.
  • Tie the ends together with rubber bands or string.
  • Starting with the lightest color, immerse the shirt in the dye-bath for 4 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove shirt from dye bath and rinse under cool running water until water runs clear.
  • Release ties and continue rinsing until water runs clear.
  • Re-twist and tie as above, tucking some of the colored sections into the middle (or twist from a different corner).
  • Dye with next darker color(s).

As you can see, there are many tie-dye patterns you can create simply by using rubber bands and a bit of ingenuity.

These were just some examples. Can you suggest any others? We’d love to hear your ideas; you can tell us in the comment feed below.