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Tie Dye Folding Technique to Create Cool Patterns

Learn a tie dye folding technique that easily creates a cool pattern! Make endless colorful, fun styles with this simple tutorial.

shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts

We’ve done some fun shibori dye projects in the past (like these placemats, towels, and embroidery!) and I love the technique. But truth be told, it’s a lot of work and a big commitment to prepare that indigo dye bath.

I wanted to create some shibori-style tie dye kids’ shirts for the kids to wear around this summer, so we combined the best parts of those two styles and created these!

This tie dye folding technique is inspired by the incredible shibori fold and resist method, with a tie dye twist.

    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts

    What makes This Different From Regular Tie Dye Techniques?

    The shibori technique of resist-dyeing is what really makes these stand out. It’s a little different from your standard tie-dye rubber banding technique, and it creates all kinds of cool patterns on the garments that you dye.

    So if you have a hankering for shibori with a tie-dye twist, this is right up your alley.

    what Exactly Is Shibori?

    Shibori dyeing is a technique that has been passed down for centuries in Asian cultures. Most often it uses natural indigo dye and creates the most lovely, inky blue shades.

    The main tenet of shibori style dying is the resist technique, which masks the fabric with something (in this case, chipboard, but it can also be wood blocks, stitching, bands, and so on) to keep the dye off of the masked portions of the fabric.

    Then, once you remove the mask, you’re left with a beautiful pattern.

    We did a big deep dive on shibori dyeing in this post!

    Other Shibori Ideas

    To keep deep diving into shibori dyeing, check out these other popular ideas from our library!

    More Dye Techniques to Explore

    And for other tie dye ideas to complement this tie dye folding technique, be sure to get inspiration from these posts:

    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts

    Best Materials for This Tie Dye Folding Technique

    When I’m doing tie dye, especially for kids projects, I like to just get a tie dye kit because it’s no fuss, no muss.

    This kit comes with pre-filled bottles so that you just have to add water. That makes things nice and tidy. It’s particularly easy to use with kids if they want to help.

    Kits also usually come with handy extras, like gloves, rubber bands, and more. I find that it’s kind of nice to have everything in one place, especially if this is your first foray into tie dye techniques.

    A kit is a good jumping off place.

    Tie Dye Folding Technique

    Now let’s try this tie dye folding technique and make some one-of-a-kind shirts! I think you’re about to have lots of fun.

    Materials

    Make Time: 30 Minutes Plus Drying Time

    1. First, dampen your shirts with water and squeeze out any excess moisture. To execute this tie dye folding technique, start by folding your shirts into a pattern. The resist technique used in shibori dyeing depends on the way that your garment is folded. The edges of the folds will receive the dye, and the inner sections will stay white, and that’s how the patterns are created. So get creative and fold your garment as you like — in halves over and over, or in an accordion, or on the diagonal, etc.
    2. Once folded, cut two pieces of chipboard that are a bit smaller than the surface of your folded garment. Sandwich the garment between the two pieces of chipboard and use rubber bands from the tie-dye kit to secure it all together.
    3. Next, prepare your dyes by adding water to the bottle fill lines and shaking until dissolved. Apply dye in your desired color to the open edges of the folded garment. You want to be sure that the dye reaches the inner layers, but also ensure that it’s not so saturated that dye is dripping off of the fabric.
    4. Once dyed, set the wrapped garment on the plastic wrap from the dye kit and cover with the plastic. Allow to sit for 6-8 hours to ensure maximum color saturation. At that point, remove the rubber bands and chipboard and rinse the garment in cool water until the water runs clear. Then unfold and run through the laundry according to the instructions on the packaging.
    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts
    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts
    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts
    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts
    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts

    Caring for your Tie Dye Garment

    When I’m laundering tie dye garments after using this folding technique, I like to run them through the wash alone for the first time, just in case there is any excess dye left in the fabric that didn’t rinse out.

    You’ll find that this protects your other garments from taking on any excess dye and getting damaged.

    Once your garment is washed and dried, let your kids rock out their shibori-inspired tees all summer long! This tie dye folding technique is such a fun summer project.

    My little ones are just a bit too young to apply the dye themselves, but if you have older kids this would be a perfect summer craft to tackle together. They could choose their favorite colors and patterns and just have a ball.

    Happy tie dyeing! xoxo

    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts
    shibori-style tie dye kids' shirts

    Tie Dye Folding Technique

    Yield: Tie Dye Garments
    Active Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour
    Difficulty: Intermediate
    Estimated Cost: $15

    This tie dye folding technique is easy to master and makes beautiful, interesting patterns!

    Materials

    • tie dye kit
    • white shirts
    • chip board
    • rubber bands

    Tools

    • Scissors

    Instructions

      1. First, dampen your shirts with water and squeeze out any excess moisture. To execute this tie dye folding technique, start by folding your shirts into a pattern. The resist technique used in shibori dyeing depends on the way that your garment is folded. The edges of the folds will receive the dye, and the inner sections will stay white, and that's how the patterns are created. So get creative and fold your garment as you like -- in halves over and over, or in an accordion, or on the diagonal, etc.
      2. Once folded, cut two pieces of chipboard that are a bit smaller than the surface of your folded garment. Sandwich the garment between the two pieces of chipboard and use rubber bands from the tie-dye kit to secure it all together.
      3. Next, prepare your dyes by adding water to the bottle fill lines and shaking until dissolved. Apply dye in your desired color to the open edges of the folded garment. You want to be sure that the dye reaches the inner layers, but also ensure that it's not so saturated that dye is dripping off of the fabric.
      4. Once dyed, set the wrapped garment on the plastic wrap from the dye kit and cover with the plastic. Allow to sit for 6-8 hours to ensure maximum color saturation. At that point, remove the rubber bands and chipboard and rinse the garment in cool water until the water runs clear. Then unfold and run through the laundry according to the instructions on the packaging.

    Notes

    When I'm laundering tie dye garments after using this folding technique, I like to run them through the wash alone for the first time, just in case there is any excess dye left in the fabric that didn't rinse out.

    You'll find that this protects your other garments from taking on any excess dye and getting damaged.

    Once your garment is washed and dried, let your kids rock out their shibori-inspired tees all summer long! This tie dye folding technique is such a fun summer project.

    My little ones are just a bit too young to apply the dye themselves, but if you have older kids this would be a perfect summer craft to tackle together. They could choose their favorite colors and patterns and just have a ball.

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