Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tie Dye Methods and Techniques

blue spiral tie dye tee

Tie Dye is super cool because there are no rules; the creative options are pretty much limitless, provided you can get your hands on all the crazy colors you're imagining. For the uninitiated, tie dye is a way of creating patterns by folding, stitching, crumpling, or otherwise preparing the fabric to inhibit the flowing of dye into the folds of the fabric. One can plan their colors and the end result to some extent, but part of the fun of tie dyeing is the surprise of unfolding/twisting/stitching your garment to see what you've got! While there are always small surprises along the tie dye journey, you can have some idea of what you're creating depending on the method that you use. So, let's explore a few of those, shall we? Onward!


photo by Saritha Rao Rayachoti

Bandhni, also called bandhani or bandhej, is an Indian method of tie dye that has been around for centuries. From the Hindu word bandhan which means "to tie up", this method involves tying many small points with thread before dip-dyeing. This creates a unique and detailed dotted pattern that is often used to create ethnic or nature-inspired designs. Frequently, bandhni pieces in India are sold with the knots intact to prove that it is an authentic bandhni piece and not a screen print.


Shibori is the name of a whole family of traditional Japanese resist techniques. It can involve binding parts of cloth with stitching, pleating, wrapping around a pole, or using shapes (often of wood, acrylic, or plexiglass) to keep the dye from permeating a certain part of the fabric. Shibori has and continues to be used to create intricate patterns for kimonos that are as unique as snowflakes.


mudmee dye bell yoga pants

Mudmee is a method of tie dyeing from Thailand. It has a particular set of shapes and colors that are traditionally used, and there are usually multiple small motifs across one piece with very fine details in each. One thing that makes mudmee tie dye particularly unique is that it is never done on white fabric; the background is always colored, usually black. This makes for a look that is similar enough to modern multi-colored tie dye to still be groovy, but it is definitely special.

Modern Multi-Colored Tie Dye

The modern technique of tie dye involves applying different colors of dye directly to cotton. The fabric is often twisted or wrapped with string or rubber bands to create patterns and parts of the fabric that resist the dye. The bright, colorful patterns create an iconic look that lets other hippies know where you are!

Check out our awesome selection of tie dye shirts, mudmee pants, tie dye tapestries, and tie dye dresses at MexicaliBlues.com!


  1. Your first photo in this post belongs to Glennis Dolce, who has not granted you permission to use it. Tou are violating her copyright.