How to tie-dye star patterns

Updated March 24, 2017

The art of tie-dying has been around for hundreds of years, but it is probably best associated with the hippie culture of the 1960s. With its bright colours and psychedelic shapes, it is little wonder it spread so quickly through counter cultures. Tie-dying is inexpensive, and every piece comes out unique. The basic spiral patterns of the tie-dye are fairly easy to perform, as they require no special folding. If you wish to create another shape, like a star, the material will have to be folded in a specific way.

Follow the instructions in your tie-dye kit for washing and preparing the shirt for dying. The specific instructions will depend on your specific kit and materials.

Lay the shirt on a flat surface, front downward and smooth it out. Try to eliminate all wrinkles in the material. It should be still slightly damp if you have done a pre-soak.

Fold the shirt in half by laying the left sleeve over the top of the right. Be sure to align the sleeves and seams. The folded seam should be on the left side.

Fold the top of the shirt under. This point should be folded about 8 cm (3 inches) from where you want the top of the star to be. Be sure the left edge fold is straight and aligned.

Estimate a point in the centre of the shirt that is located roughly one and one half the width of the shirt from the top fold. Gently pull the upper left corner of the shirt down to meet this point; you should form a rough 36 degree angle from the left edge fold and the fold you have just pulled across. Be sure none of the layers shift during this step.

Untuck the top portion of the shirt that was previously folded under. It was only needed to help establish the height of the star.

Take the lower left corner of the shirt and fold it upward at an angle. This fold should cross over the top layer. The shirt should be formed in a rough triangle shape.

Take the top portion of the shirt and fold it under. You should be left with a wedge shape.

Turn the wedge shape so that the long flat edge is toward you. The point of the wedge should be to the right. This point makes up the centre of the star pattern.

Use a marker to a line on the tip of the wedge. The angle of the line will determine the length of the star points. Whichever edge is the longest, be it the top or the bottom edge, will make up half the diameter of the star shape. Be careful, as it is easy to make this too big.

Pleat the shirt. Gather the material together carefully, keeping the marked line straight as you bunch it together.

Follow the rest of the steps that are included in the tie-dye kit to finish tying the shirt and applying the dye. Once again these steps will depend on the kit.

Things You'll Need

  • Tie-dye kit
  • Plain white T-shirt
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About the Author

C.A. Rubino has spent more than 30 years amassing an unusual educational background including a doctorate in metaphysical science, a Master of Arts in Jungian psychology and certification as a Karuna Ki/Reiki master. Currently, he writes for various publications, specializing in religion and spirituality along with topics on alternative health and computer technology.