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Tie-dye Troubleshooting

trouble shoot your tie dye

Let’s talk tie-dye trouble shooting! If you love to tie-dye, but never feel you come out with a perfect result, here are some solutions that might help! Here are some tips I learned over the years.

For eight years I worked as a national spokesperson for a craft company that sold Tulip tie dye. I spent many, many hours trying all kinds of techniques and ideas. Now I feel like a tie-dye whisperer! There were successes, but also lots of fails. Hopefully this saves you time and tie-dye heartache!

Okay, let’s do this! I’ll share some common mistakes and then the solution.

Tie-dye troubleshooting tips:

The dye washed out of my project when I rinsed it!

Solution: Make sure the fabric you are dying is made of natural materials: Cotton, hemp, rayon, silk, jute. If your fabric is made up of synthetic materials, it will resist the dye. Polyester, lycra, microfibre, nylon won’t work. 

My project comes out brown after I use all the colors.

Solution: Familiarize yourself with the color wheel to know which colors NOT to put side by side. Avoid using these colors next to each other: Red/green – yellow/purple – orange/blue – green/purple.


My lines are not defined after I remove the rubberbands from my project.

Solution: Tie your rubberbands tighter, or even better, use zip-ties for crisp separation of color for your design.

The dye just rolls off the fabric, it doesn’t soak in.

Solution: If you have a new garment from the store, pre-wash it before dyeing, because this will remove the sizing. The sizing is what cause the dye not to attach tot he fibers.

I washed my garment in my washing machine and it turned all my other clothes pink or blue.

Solution: Once the dye sets for the manufacturers recommended amount of time, you must run it under cool water until it runs clear. Then remove the rubberbands/ties and put in the washer alone for the next couple washes. Hang dry.

My colors are not vibrant at all.

Solution: Try presoaking your garment in soda ash, this will help prep the fibres absorb more dye. Also make sure that your dye sets for as long as the manufacturer directions say. The thicker the fabric the more dye you will need. Do not water it down. Also, your garment might be too wet. It should be damp, not sopping, dripping wet.

My dye soaked onto my table and messed up the back of my garment after I tied it with rubberbands.

Solution: Line your work area with a plastic bag. Cut it open so you can spread it out. Visit a dollar or thrift store and buy a cookie cooling rack. Set your piece to be dyed on top of the rack so as you add the dye, it will overflow down to the plastic.

Ack, I had an accident! How do I wash dye out of my clothes?

Solution: Wear an apron or clothes you don’t mind messing up. Unfortunately, the dye is permanent (unless you wear synthetic fabric!) 

Can I dye again on top if a shirt I already dyed?

As long as it is organic fabric like mentioned above, yes you can!

My dye is all over my hands, how long will it stay?

Solution: Use something with a scrubbing effect – such as a light pumice stone, a bit of laundry detergent or baking soda, even sugar and lotion. Otherwise it will last a couple days. Make sure to wear gloves to prevent the dye from staining your hands.

My projects never come out how I want.

Solution: Practice, practice, practice! Practice on cotton dish towels or bandanas. Make sure your folds are crisp and straight, and your ties are strong. Don’t give up, you got this!

I hope this session of tie-dye troubleshooting was helpful!

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