How to Make a Multi-Coloured Tie-Dye T-Shirt

Tie dyeing T-shirts is a craft that any age group can do. In addition to the basic technique of using one colour of fabric dye on the shirt, you can add multiple colours to your design as well. If you control the application of your dye colours with a squeeze bottle, the colours can form an interesting pattern together. You can also blend the colours at the edges to create another colour on the shirt.

Wash a white cotton T-shirt at least once. The shirt does not have to be new. It can also be a pale colour instead of white. Do not dry the shirt after washing. It must be damp for the tie dyeing.

Spread a plastic dust sheet on a flat work surface. Spread the damp shirt flat on the dust sheet.

Pinch an area of the shirt to make the damp fabric stand up about an inch. Turn the pinched area like a knob so that the damp shirt spirals around it. Keep turning the shirt until the whole thing is wound around the pinched part. It should look like a giant fabric Danish pastry.

Wear rubber or latex gloves and an apron to protect you from dye stains.

Prepare at least two colours of fabric dye according to the manufacturer's directions. Craft stores sell fabric dye specifically for tie dyeing. Pour each colour into a plastic squeeze bottle.

Squirt the first colour of dye onto the twisted shirt in a pattern. For example, squeeze a spot of dye in the centre of your twisted shirt and make concentric circles around this spot, leaving white space between them. Another example is to make lines radiating from the middle of the twisted shirt to the outer edge. Leave white space between your lines.

Squeeze a second colour of dye into the white spaces you left on the shirt. Try to leave a little white space between the colours to keep them separate. Another idea is to let the colours blend together at the edges. Keep in mind that some colours, when blended, create other colours, such as yellow and blue that make green. Use as many colours as you like, but don't overdo it. Too many colours together look brown or muddy.

Turn the twisted shirt over and repeat Steps 6 and 7 to make a pattern on the back side.

Place the shirt, still twisted, into a plastic, zipper-seal bag. Leave it for several hours or overnight so the dye can soak in.

Launder the shirt by itself to remove excess dye. Do not wash anything else with it in the washer. After the first washing, you can wash it with other coloured items. Consult the dye label for specific washing instructions.


Experiment with patterns by scrunching the shirt in different ways. Try twisting the shirt lengthwise or tying it in knots instead of twisting it in a spiral, or you can make several small spirals on the shirt.

Things You'll Need

  • White cotton T-shirt
  • Plastic dust sheet
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Apron
  • Fabric dye
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Plastic bag
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About the Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.