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How to Tie Dye a Shirt with Food Coloring
April 29, 2021

How to Tie Dye a Shirt with Food Coloring

Hey guys!

Want to try the tie dye trend but you’re not sure you want to commit to having a permanently dyed shirt in your closet? Or maybe you want to do a craft NOW but don’t have the time to run to the craft store for supplies? Let me show you how to tie dye a shirt with food coloring — the perfect solution for when you’re feeling crafty but noncommittal!


Most things you might already have in your cupboard or closet! Here’s what you need: food coloring, condiment squeeze bottles, a T-shirt, rubber bands, a measuring cup, clothespins, gloves, and water.


Now that you have your supplies, you’re ready to learn how to tie dye a shirt with food coloring. Pre-wash your shirt so it’s damp, but not soaking wet. If it’s saturated, squeeze some of the water out.

Open your shirt so it’s laying flat in front of you. Pinch the shirt in the middle and twist it so it coils into itself.


Wrap a rubber band around the coiled shirt. Add several more rubber bands around the shirt going in the other direction so it stays bound. This will give your shirt a traditional spiral design, but if you want to try other designs, skip ahead for some other ideas on how to create designs for your tie dye shirt.


Now for the messy but fun part! You’ll want to use one squeeze bottle per color that you plan on applying to your shirt. Mix at least 16 drops of food coloring and a half cup of water in a squeeze bottle and shake it up! Add more food coloring if you want brighter, bolder colors.

If your shirt is dry, spritz some water on it. This will help it soak up the food coloring better. And now, get coloring! Squirt the food coloring on the shirt, in whatever pattern and color scheme you like.

When you’re done coloring your shirt, soak it in a salt water mix, which will help set the colors. Mix 1/2 cup of salt with cold water until the salt is dissolved, making sure there is enough to cover your shirt. Soak your shirt for 15-30 minutes, then put your shirt in a plastic bag and wrap it tight, squeezing out the air in the bag. Let your wrapped shirt sit for 12 hours.

When the 12 hours are up, take it out and hang it up to dry, somewhere away from sunlight. And when it’s dry, it’s time to wear it out and show it off!


Now that you know how to tie dye a shirt with food coloring, it’s time to take it beyond the basics. Here are some ideas to make your tie dye shirt really pop!


You can’t go wrong with this! This is the classic tie dye design. It’s super easy to do, too! Just lay your shirt flat, pinch the fabric in the center, and twist the fabric in a circular motion. Keep going until the shirt is in a spiral shape. Secure your shirt with three rubber bands to create a wedge effect. Apply the fabric dye to your shirt, and repeat on the other side.


For a swirl pattern, lay your shirt flat. Pick an area to be the center of the swirl and pinch the fabric there with your index finger and thumb. Start twisting the fabric repeatedly until a swirl starts to form. Keep going until all of the fabric has been incorporated into the swirl. You should have a big circle of fabric. Band the fabric like slices of pizza — about six to eight slices should work.

Apply dye to the slices, covering the front and back of each wedge in the same color. Leave some white space in between colors to give them room to bleed into each other.


Hit the spot with a bullseye target tie dye pattern! Pinch the shirt at the center of where the bullseye will be. Pull upward into a cone shape, guiding the fabric with your other hand. Wrap a rubber band about one to two inches below the tip of the fabric, then continue binding your shirt with however many rubber bands you prefer. Then add your dye to the rubber banded sections.


Love is in the air… or at least, it’s on your shirt! To make a heart-shaped tie dye pattern, fold your shirt vertically in half and draw a half heart on one side. Fold your shirt along the line so that it appears straight when the shirt is folded together. Wrap a rubber band around your shirt at this line. Then wrap more rubber bands around various sections of the shirt. Now it’s ready for the food color dye!


This pattern creates a really cool ripply effect. And it’s super easy! Lay your shirt flat, then start scrunching the shirt together with your fingers. Keep going until everything is in a crumpled mound. Secure your shirt tightly with rubber bands, and add the dye. Flip the shirt over and repeat.


Now you know how to tie dye a shirt with food coloring for an awesome DIY effect. It’s cheap, safe, and super simple. Experiment and have fun with the different colors, and see what you can come up with.

I love you all so much! Stay awesome, stay sweet, and don’t forget to be nice to each other. Bye bye!