Scrolled through your Instagram and wondered if you’ve somehow travelled back to 1969? You haven’t – tie dye is simply having yet another moment. 

But don’t go digging up your fringe vest or flower crown just yet. There is a modern way to tackle tie dye, and we’re going to show you how.

Keep it monochrome
Vibrant rainbow swirls are out, and muted patterns in one or two colours have taken their place. The key to making your tie dye piece look more at home in 2020 is to take it easy on the colour, only choosing one or two dyes for your project. Our current favourites are pastel blues and purples, and warm neutrals like beiges and browns – both on white materials, of course. If you’re more at home in darker pieces, opt for navy or black dyes (again on a white t-shirt) for a moody effect.

Try tie ‘bleach’ instead
We’ve all heard of tie dye, but have you seen what happens when you swap the dye out for bleach? The coolest contrasting colours, that’s what! Take a piece of clothing in a solid colour – it could be dark, like black, denim or navy, neutral like brown or light like pink or yellow – and tie it up as you would for a normal tie dye project (more on that later). Then, apply bleach as you would fabric dye and wait for the results.

Take it to the bedroom
Tie dye bedding? Yep, it’s a thing! If you’re not sure about rocking your tie dye creation day-to-day, consider using some old bed sheets for your project instead – you just might love the results! The world is your oyster when it comes to DIY-ing your bedding. You could add colour to a white sheet, bleach a darker doona cover or make a matching set of pillow cases to compliment an existing blanket or sheet set. Just get creative! 


You’ll need…

  • A workspace – preferably outdoor, as things can get messy
  • A plastic sheet or garbage bags
  • Fabric dyes in your choice of colours
  • The item you want to tie dye
  • Buckets or squeezable bottles – one for each colour dye
  • Water – i.e. a hose or stainless steel sink to rinse the pieces
  • Rubber bands – to make your patterns!
  • Gloves
  • And, if you’re using a bucket: something to stir with, scissors and tongs.


Pre-wash the item you are going to tie dye to remove any starch or sizing, especially if it’s brand new. It should be a little damp when you fold it and add the dyes.

Decide which pattern you are going to create – click here for a run down of the different techniques – and tie the rubber bands around your piece accordingly. Remember that the parts that are tied up with a rubber band will not absorb the dye.

Put down a plastic sheet or garbage bag, then mix your dye with water (according to package instructions) in either a squeeze bottle or bucket. Note: a bucket is more suitable for one colour tie dying, while a squeeze bottle is better for designs with two or more dye colours.

If you are using a squeeze bottle, begin to squirt your dye-water solution onto the shirt, wherever you like, then add more colours one by one. If you are using a bucket, immerse your item in the bucket.

Once your piece is covered in dye, i.e. either sitting in the bucket or soaked by the squeeze bottles, leave it for the recommended time (according to package instructions). 

Once you are happy with the colour, rinse it in cold water – either in a stainless steel sink or using a hose. You may want to unwrap and retie your piece in a different way, then repeat the process with another colour (either with a squeeze bottle or another bucket of dye and water) but be wary that dyes can change colour when mixed.

Wrap the dyed fabric – while wet – in a plastic bag and leave for the recommended time (according to package instructions). When you are satisfied that the colours are set, wash and dry the item as normal.

Have fun rocking your new tie dye piece!



haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.