How to Tie Dye Clothes

My relationship with tie dye goes back to circa 1987. I was working as a laborer in a dye house in Poughkeepsie, NY taking out the garbage and cleaning up after the employees whom were skilled in tie dye. Now let’s just say my vision as a child was not that I would become a master dyer, but for whatever reason, whether it be coincidence, destiny, or me just latching on to what felt right, it is what I am today over 30 years later.

I have always had a good work ethic and usually could out work most of the people around me. I am not saying that for bragging rights, but I assume it is why the head dyer in the dye house called me in to his office one day and asked if I wanted more from my life than cleaning up garbage. Needless to say I was working in the laboratory the next day weighing dyes for the lab dyeing technician. We didn’t have sophisticated computers at that point so everything was done with calculators and logged in a journal. I have to say I took to working in the textile laboratory very quickly, I really felt comfortable and at the same time my piers saw that this was in a place that really felt right for me.

After a full year of weighing dyes and scaling formulas I was promoted to having more autonomy and doing lab dips directly for the master dyer. Right about this time there was an old trend being ‘reincarnated’ as we would say… tie dye. As trends tend to happen, out of the blue tie dye requests were coming in every direction for every fiber.  Around the nation from California, Florida, Texas, Chicago, Massachusetts, we were getting requests to tie dye fabrics and garments. The dye house was inundated with tie dye work, and I began on a lifelong journey of creating some of the finest and trendiest tie dye designs for fashion and home.

Little did I know that in addition to fulfilling orders for major fashion brands and retailers, I would soon be asked to provide lessons to teach people how to tie dye clothes. After several requests and much thought about whether I could teach students a craft that I spent my life learning and mastering, I decided that the answer was yes! I can teach people to tie dye their own clothes. Interesting enough I was asked by a major television show to teach contestants how to tie dye, but I cannot talk too much about that until it airs in February 2020. What I can talk about though is teaching you how to tie dye, hopefully you find it as much fun as I do!

Here you will find some pretty straight forward instructions on how to tie dye your clothes. This is the same way do commercial tie dyeing for major brands and retailers.

  1. Lay your garment (shirt, sweatshirt, blouse...) on a table.
  2. Twist and/or fold your garment into the desired pattern. Use rubber bands to hold its shape while your garment is being tie-dyed. (video will show how to create all patterns on Project Runway).
  3. Prepare the dye colors for your tie dye (video will show which dyes to use for different fibers and the correct way to mix dyes for professional results).
  4. Apply dye to your garment. Certain patterns require the dye to be applied in a very specific way(explained in video).
  5. Let your garment sit for a certain length of time. (explain in video).

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