Mottled Tie Dye Techniques

Tie dye is a fun and easy craft project that can be done with both children and adults. Depending on the way you scrunch or fold the fabric, you can make a variety of patterns including sunbursts, stripes, and mottled patterns, and each pattern has its own variations. By using marbles, rubber bands and folds in the fabric, for example, you can create a variety of mottled looks.

Tie Dye Tips

Before dying your fabric, it is important to prepare the work space and to mix your dye. Tie dye can be a very messy activity, so spread plastic sheets or garbage bags on the work surface to prevent staining. Mix your dye in individual containers by colour then pour it into squirt bottles to make it easier to use. As you dye your fabric, wear rubber gloves to keep the dye from staining your hands and avoid splattering the dye. When finished, allow the dye to set and the fabric to dry completely before wearing your tie dyed item.

Scrunch Method

To create a non-uniform mottled look, scrunch your fabric item up and secure it with rubber bands before dying it. Lay the item flat and gather it in small bunches. Scrunch all the bunches of fabric together into a big ball and secure it around the outside with a large rubber band. Squirt the dye onto the fabric and allow it to soak in. By using a combination of different colours in different areas on the fabric you will achieve a colourful and mottled look. For an overall mottled appearance, use only one colour of dye and squirt it on more heavily in some areas than in others.

Marble Method

To create a swirled and mottled pattern in your tie dye, gather bunches of fabric around a few marbles. Place the marbles under the fabric and pinch them through the fabric with your fingers. Gather the fabric around the marbles in small bunches and secure each bunch with a rubber band. You may choose to leave the fabric gathered in small bunches or you may gather all of the bunches together and secure it with a rubber band for a more overall mottled appearance. Squirt your dye onto the fabric, slightly concentrating on the marbles. When you unwrap the fabric, the dye will be mottled in a circular pattern.

Pleated Technique

To give your tie dyed fabric the appearance of mottled folds, pleat the fabric before dying it. Create small folds in different sections of the fabric. You may choose to pleat the entire shirt in one direction or you might pleat small sections of it with the folds angled differently. When you are finished folding, loosely gather the excess fabric and secure it with a rubber band. Squirt the dye onto the fabric in whatever colour or pattern you choose and let it dry. The dye will be more heavily concentrated on the folds of the fabric so when you unfold it, the pattern will be mottled.

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About the Author

Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.