How to tie dye: the lockdown craft taking over social media

Want to learn how to tie dye like everyone else on your Instagram? Well here you go...

How to tie dye
(Image credit: Getty)

Want to learn how to tie dye? Well you are not alone, we have seen everyone on social media going back to their retro roots and tie dying everything in sight. Yep tie is cool again (or maybe we are all just so bored we are desperate for new projects).

DIYing the look really couldn't be easier. We've chosen to give napkins a new, boho life, but really this would work for clothes, bedding, cushions, you name it. Looking for more crafts or DIY projects? Head over to our hub page.

You will need: 

Step one: wash your fabric 

Before tie dying any fabric pop it in the washing machine first. Don't use fabric softener though as it might stop the dye soaking in later.  

  • Psttt... if you have given up already, just shop tie dye homeware below:

Step two: prepare the dye 

While whatever you are dying is in the washing machine, you can start preparing your dye. Use the instructions on the packet of dye you have chosen for this step, as it does vary. For example, some suggest adding salt as this means the dye will absorb faster. 

Mix your dye in a bucket that will be large enough to allow you to immerse whatever you are dying. Or, if you are dying something smaller, mix your dye into an empty squeezy bottle for easy application. 

Step three: create your pattern 

There are loads of different ways you can tie up your napkins and get different effects. Here are our favourites...

For swirls:
Begin by laying the napkin out flat, then pinch and twist the centre of the napkin. Keep twisting the fabric from the centre until the entire napkin is twisted up. Tie together with rubber bands crossing over in the centre – we'd recommend around  six to ensure it's secure. 

How to tie dye

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

For a marbled effect:
Basically, all you have to do with this is crumble the napkin into a ball and secure with plenty of rubber bands. Simple, yet effective.

How to tie dye

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

For stripes:
Pleat the napkin, folding forwards and backwards until it forms a thin long piece. Then tie bands around it in equal sections.

How to tie dye

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

For circles:
Choose exactly where you want your circles to be and pinch these areas, pulling up a bit of the fabric and then securing with a band. Repeat this for as many circle as you would like.

Remember, the more fabric above the rubber band, the bigger the circle will be. 

How to tie dye

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

Step four: get dying 

Place your napkins onto a plastic dust sheet. This might get messy so make sure the surface you are working on is completely covered and there is nothing in the nearby vicinity.

Take your squeezy bottle and carefully squeeze the dye onto the areas you tied with the bands. Now leave them for 24 hours to dry. 

How to tie dye

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

Step five: rinse off the dye 

Once dry, rinse your napkins under cold water, until the water runs clear. Then, take off the rubber bands and again run the napkins under water until the water runs clear. Finally, pop the napkins in the washing machine, take them out, dry and iron. Voila. 

How to tie dye

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

*DIY step by step thanks to Furniture Choice

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Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.