How to Tie-Dye Using Acrylic Paint

Updated July 20, 2017

Tie-dyed materials became prevalent in the early 1960s. This technique is still common today. Each design is unique. The pattern and colours you choose for your T-shirt are entirely up to you. Using acrylic paint, as opposed to traditional clothing dye, will render more vibrant colours. Acrylic paint is also less messy and much easier to control during application. This project calls for a T-shirt, however, any light coloured material may be used.

Wrap rubber bands around small sections of the T-shirt. The number and placement of rubber bands will depend on personal choice. To create a large circular pattern, find a starting point and wrap rubber bands along the same section of T-shirt. Work in toward the centre, wrapping rubber bands at different intervals.

Fill small, plastic bottles with one part paint and one part water. The number of bottles needed will depend on how many colours you wish to use. Shake vigorously until the paint and water are mixed. Acrylic paint tends to sink to the bottom when settled, so be sure to shake it right before use.

Hold the T-shirt over a tub or large, plastic bin. Apply paint by squeezing the bottle. If you want the colours to blend, do not allow them to dry in between colour applications. For vibrant colours, allow them to dry slightly between applications.

Place the T-shirt in the tub or bin. Allow it to dry thoroughly. Remove the rubber bands. Hand- or machine-wash the T-shirt. Once dry, your tie-dyed shirt is ready to wear.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 white T-shirt
  • Acrylic paint
  • Rubber bands
  • Small plastic bottles
  • Tub or plastic bin
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About the Author

Terry Moore has been a writer since 2004. She has worked with a variety of publishing firms and content providers including Destination Media Group and Sunrise Publishing House. Her areas of expertise include art history and graphic design. Terry earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts in 2006, majoring in English literature with a minor in fine arts.