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!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Monday: Hanging Out with Young Jerry!

It's no secret that all of us at Mexicali love the Grateful Dead and their unimitable frontman, Jerry Garcia. Today we want to share with you a bunch of cool videos of Jerry from back in the day!

Here Jerry talks about the hippie culture of the 60's at the Playboy Mansion, and joins the rest of the band to play "Mountains of the Moon":

Here's a rare clip of him jamming with friends at Woodstock in 1969:

In an interview, he describes what making music feels like for him:

Awesome clip of singing/jamming with Rick Danko, Janis Joplin, and more from the awesome documentary Festival Express :

Another clip from Festival Express; the Dead performing "Don't Ease Me In":

Some final words of wisdom from the man:

We miss you, Jerry!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Brief History of Tie Dye

When we think of tie dye and where it might have originated, the first image that often comes to mind is the freewheeling hippie lifestyle of the 1960's. Today, many of us who wear tie dye feel some connection with that peace-loving hippie spirit! You might be surprised to learn that the history of tie dye actually began long before those free-loving, music-grooving Woodstock-era days; the earliest mentions of tie dye in historical records were in ancient Japan and China.

In China they were using tie-dye from 618 to 906 C.E., during the T'ang dynasty. In Japan they used tie dye during the Nara period of 552 to 794 C.E. Their early methods of tie dye involved extracting the natural dyes from flowers, berries, roots and leaves by boiling them in hot water, dipping sections of cloth in the different colors made, and letting them steep.

Around the 15th century, a style of tie dye known as Tsujigahana (translated as "flowers at crossing") became fashionable. This process used intricate stitching to delineate the the sections of the fabric to be dyed separate colors, rather than the traditional dip-dying, which often allowed the colors to run together. This method also involved painting designs on the fabric with sumi ink, which would then darken more than the surrounding fabric when it was dyed.

Tie dye gained popularity in the United States during the Great Depression, when it was considered an economical way to add new color to old materials. Pamphlets were handed out describing how to tie dye and use old cotton, flour, coffee, and sugar sacks to create new clothing and home decorations.

Woodstock, 1969. Photo via flickr user hlthom4

Tie dye was embraced during the Vietnam War era when young people craved peace and freedom from the uptight generations that preceded them (particularly parents and authority figures). Tie dye was a form of artistic expression and protest for the free-spirited hippie generation; it was an easy and inexpensive way to express individuality while brightening up the world with unique and happy colors!

At Mexicali Blues, we see tie dye as an awesome way to express yourself with cool colors and patterns that will always stand out in a crowd! Here are a few of our favorites:

classic rainbow spiral tie dye

peace sign tie dye

butterfly batwing mudmee top

tie dye starburst tapestry

Check out our sweet collection of tie dye and mudmee tie dye on our website, and join us next week as we explore all the different types of tie dye!