How Are Tie-Dye T-Shirts Made?

tie-dye-t-shirts-made Credit: Melissa Ross/Moment/Getty Images

According to Family Crafts at, tie-dye is made from tying different colors of dye into a clothing item which results in a design. One needs a clothing item, rubber band or string, dye and a bucket. Prep materials include soda ash and salt, plus protective items for the hands and work area. Specific designs are achieved from different tying techniques; however, each end result always features a slight variation.

Before the dye is applied, soda ash or salt is used to pre-treat the item for the most vibrant colors. The dye chosen for tie-dyeing can be dye bought separately, or in a tie-dying kit. The tied item stays soaked in a bucket for 24 hours; or, it is rinsed out immediately per the instructions on the kit.

The item chosen for tie-dying should be at least 60 percent cotton. A rubber band or string tied tightly around the item is used to impose the dye into the clothing in various designs. For example, a rubber band placed one to two inches apart, down the length of a rolled up t-shirt, makes a circle tie-dyed design.

To create the popular marble tie-dye design on a t-shirt, the shirt is scrunched into a ball and several rubber bands are tied around the shirt to hold them into place. The process is then repeated several times for a complete marbled effect.