How to tie dye in your home

We'll definitely be trying "the mess" method!
By Daniel Boan

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Now that we're all spending more time indoors, a lot of us have been looking for new ways to stay entertained and distracted. Many people are also looking for ways to get their creative juices flowing, which might be why tie-dyeing has become a go-to activity while we're all social distancing.

If it's been a while since you tried your hand at tie-dye, TODAY lifestyle contributor Jill Martin has you covered. She made a detailed video guide on all the supplies and tricks you'll need to make your very own colorful creations at home. Tie-dyeing is the perfect family activity, so Martin's parents and her future sister-in-law, Hara, also decided to lend a helping hand!

What supplies do I need to tie-dye?

You can't plan a full day of tie-dye fun without an all-in-one kit, and Martin used the Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Party Kit.

Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Party Kit

This kit comes with everything you need to get started: 18 dyes in squeezable bottles, gloves, rubber bands, and a plastic tarp for easy cleaning.

Of course, you'll also need something to tie-dye. Martin and her family tie-dyed a sweatshirt, tank tops pillowcases, towels and socks, but anything made of cotton should work — just avoid polyester for best results!

Hanes ComfortSoft Tanks

Lastly, you'll need some large Ziplock bags and your trusty pair of scissors, and then you can start working on your colorful masterpiece.

Tie-dye basics

No matter what you're tie-dyeing, it's important to note that all materials must be damp for the color to dye the fabric properly. Then you'll use rubber bands to separate your item into sections and soak each section with a different color of choice. Once you're done coloring each section, you'll let the item sit in a Ziplock bag for seven to 24 hours, depending on how bold you want the color to appear.

Once your item is ready, it's time to wash. First, you'll give it a quick soak in water to rinse off the excess dye, then throw it in the washer using cold water and a small amount of detergent. Then it's time for a second wash in warm water, a quick run through the dryer, and then your tie-dye pieces will be ready to wear!

So how exactly should you section your item when tie-dyeing? Martin demonstrated four simple methods that are easy to replicate at home.

1. "Sunburst" tie-dye method

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For this method, Martin grabbed her pillowcase from the middle, then tied two rubber bands to create three evenly divided sections.

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Then you simply apply a different color to the front and back of each section. Your sections don't have to be exactly even, and Martin notes that "there's no rhyme or reason to it," so let your creativity run wild!

2. "The fan" tie-dye method

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To make a fan pattern, start by folding your item accordion-style, alternating forward and backward folds.

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Then tie on your rubber bands — Martin used four for a hand towel — and apply a different dye to each section.

3. "The mess" tie-dye method

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This might be the easiest method of the bunch. You essentially grab an item — Martin used a pair of white socks — and then spread it throughout all of the splattered dye that has landed on your plastic tarp.

It's a great way to clean-up while not letting a drop of dye go to waste.

4. "The Swirl" tie-dye method

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If you want to re-create the pattern on Hara's vibrant tank top, the swirl method is for you! You start by gathering the fabric in the center and swirling it around into a tight circle. Then you tie on the rubber bands into your preferred number of sections — the result should end up looking like a sliced pizza pie — and apply your colors of choice.

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Just remember — no matter which method you choose, make sure you let each item sit in the plastic bag for at least seven hours for the best results.

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