How to Tie Dye Shirts or Long Johns or Dish Towels with the Accordion Fold Technique
This is nothing new, I know, but tie-dyed Long Johns or Thermal Underwear have always been my faves! Just cause you have to bundle up in many layers during Winter, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it! And this tutorial will show you this easy tie dye method. So, if you’re a beginner, this tutorial is for you.
Tie Dye became a huge trend in the 1960s and 1970s but tie dyeing fabric has its roots in Shibori Dyeing. Shibori dates back to the 1300s in Japan but a version of tie dyed fabrics also show up in many Latin American, Indian and African cultures.
You can get super fancy with this tie dyeing technique, but I am going to show you just the basics of the accordion fold technique to get you started. By the way … Tie Dyed Shirts or Socks make great DIY Gift Ideas!
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Tie Dye Supplies:
- Cotton T Shirts or
- Cotton Long Johns
- Tie Dye Kit which includes, dyes, bottle, rubber bands, gloves
- Plastic to cover table
- Gallon zip bags
Prep the Fabric for Tie Dyeing
Each type of fabric dye calls for its own special preparation of the fabric so be sure to carefully read the instructions on your tie dye kit or dye containers.
This particular kit only required pre-washing and soaking the fabric in warm water to thoroughly saturate the fibers. After soaking, squeeze out as much of the excess water as possible. Trust me, you don’t want your long johns to be dripping wet.
Accordion Fold Tie Dye Method
Fold Your Fabric:
Next, you will begin folding your long johns. Cover your table with the plastic wrap or tablecloth. Now, lay your long johns flat on the plastic.
First, fold them in half lengthwise. Then, beginning at the ankle cuff, carefully fold your fabric first over, then under – back and forth – accordion style. Try to be as neat as possible but don’t stress over it. This takes a little practice so feel free to start over if you need to.
Once the entire pair of pants is folded, hold it with one hand and tie 4 or 5 rubber bands tightly around the bundle.
Tie Dye Your Long Johns:
Follow the tie dye kit directions. Mine says to add water to the bottles and shake well to dissolve the dye.
Before you begin, take a moment to decide which colors to apply to what sections, keeping in mind which colors are compatible and blend well. The rubber bands act as a resist and will keep the dye colors from flooding together but they will mingle a little bit.
Carefully, apply the dyes, one color at a time in the sections between the rubber bands. Use the tip of the bottle to get it in the folds. Once the front side is covered with dye, flip the piece over and repeat the dye process on the other side.
Setting the Tie Dye
Once you have covered the entire long johns with the dye colors, carefully pick it up and pop it in a zip lock bag. Finally, close the bag and let it set overnight.
To finish your tie dyed pants, rinse the tied up bundle with cool water to remove most of the excess dye. You want to get as much dye out before you remove the rubber bands. Be patient, this may take a while.
Next, cut the rubber bands and continue rinsing until the water runs clear. Finally, wash your freshly dyed long johns in the washing machine (separately) and hang to dry.
That’s it! You’ll want to continue washing them separately at least for a while. What do you think?
By the way, this tie dye method works great with all kinds of fabric from T Shirts, Wallhangings, Curtains and Pillow Covers.