WEAR IT: TIE-DYE
Fig. L: Alternating red and yellow on the front.
Fig. M: Alternating green and blue on the back. This
combo creates the pattern shown on page 128.
Fig. N: Four quadrants of blue ... Fig. O: ... plus spirals of
red ... Fig. P: ... make blue spirals and red rays.
8. All Together Now
It’s time to dye some shirts. Be sure to get the color
deep into the folds, especially if you don’t like white
in your tie-dye. Note that some colors mix together
in a pretty manner (red plus blue gives purple, etc.),
while other colors mix into … mud.
Keep your surface clean! You need to use a lot of
dye, and it drips. When finished, wrap each shirt in a
plastic bag and let it set undisturbed for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, rinse the bundled shirts in water,
unbundle them, and continue rinsing until the water
runs mostly clear. Immediately machine-wash the
shirts with a textile detergent, such as Synthrapol,
which helps carry the excess dye away. Now the
shirts should be colorfast and stay bright for years.
9. Helter Skelter
This shirt pictured on page 128 was dyed with
4 colors; red and yellow alternating on the top
(Figure L), and green and blue alternating on the
bottom (FIgure M). The colors were pushed down
into the folds so they met in the middle, but with
minimal overlap. The result is a bright, cheery shirt
with a simple spiral. The extra-bright red dye stands
out in the pattern and creates a radial effect.
10. The Long and Winding Road
While some tie-dye practitioners abhor white
(some go so far as to start with pre-colored shirts),
I don’t mind white. I use white in this example as a
backdrop for a pattern of blue spirals and red lines,
each dyed onto their own side of the twisted bundle
(Figures N, O, and P).
My supplies and most of my technical data are from
Dharma Trading Company:
More of my tie-dye shirts can be seen at
Many thanks to Matt and Susan Pinsonneault for
teaching me to tie and dye in the first place and for
the use of their garage and colors for this project, to
Marla Wise who provided extra hands where needed,
and to Dharma Trading for being awesome.
Edwin Wise is a software engineer and rogue technologist,
developing software during the day and exploring the edges
of mad science at night.