No doubt the one thing that everyone has tried during this time is tie-dye. No one is on a tie-die(t) LOL. The classic summer camp activity has found a dedicated audience of homebound families looking to pass the time creatively. I definitely got the bug and dyed a ton of pieces at home and found the entire process super fun and actually kinda soothing. I clearly love clothing and don’t shy away from color, so for me, it’s been really fun to experiment with these incredible hues (we stan for Jacquard dyes and swear by them) to create new patterns and hues.
We got the tie dye 411 from our very own Particulars team member, Karen, who fell so deep in love with dying that she and 2 friends recently started a side hustle selling their wares at @WeWillDYE4U—a nod to their love of Prince and tie-dying for friends and loved ones.
And besides the homemade gear I am wearing, I also love these pieces in my closet. This yellow shirt is A. Golde, the cream sweatshirt is RTA, and the tie dye button down is Etoile Isabel Marant.
Here is the tie dye process we stick to in order to create one-of-a-kind pieces:
- The basics: we use Jacquard products and their specific dying method. Jacquard makes premium powdered dyes* which are reconstituted with cold water. We use Procion MX Dye. Each petite jar provides plenty of powder for multi-batch dying. This method also requires pre-soaking the garments in a soda ash bath, wringing, and then rubber-banding in order to dye. *These are not your typical garish tie-dye colors— they have a rich palette and offer subtle neutrals that render super chic.
- Soak in soda ash: you need to soak your pieces in a hot, soda ash bath (it fixes the dye) or else the dye won’t adhere well. Trust us, you can’t skip this step.
- Once your damp garments have been wrung out, you can fold and rubber band them in a multitude of ways—there are tried and true techniques like the spiral, the accordion, the crumple…etc. but part of the fun is winging it a bit. Go wild!
- You’re ready to dye! Mix 2 teaspoons of Jacquard dye into a squeeze bottle, 1 teaspoon of urea(optional), and then fill with 8oz of water, shake, and you’re set!
- Select your color combos and squeeze away. We like to cover each banded area with dye and somewhat saturate it—it makes for a bolder look. Remember to dye the front and back of your fabric.
- After you are done, wrap your piece up in either plastic wrap or insert it into a zippered plastic bag and then set out to sit for 12-24 hours. The longer you let it sit, the better. We let ours bake in the hot sun for at least 12-14 hours.
- Once it’s rested, you can peek…it’s literally our favorite part of the process. Every time we do it we are like kids on Christmas morning and run to the sink to un-band. Once the bands are off, run the fabric under cool water until it runs almost clear.
- Lastly, take all of the wrung-out garments and wash them on a cold cycle (we just do a speed wash with a bit of detergent). Then, you can dry them in the dryer and they are ready to wear!
Other pro tips:
- Select fabrics that are 100% or close to 100% cotton. Synthetics will not take this specific kind of dye.
- Our favorite colors include: Golden Yellow, Teal, Cerulean Blue, Aquamarine, Navy, Avocado, Rust Orange, Bronze, Chocolate Brown, Brown Rose, Raspberry, Warm Black, Ecru, Peach, Robin’s Egg Blue, Neutral Grey
- Dye outside! It’s way messy. Wear gloves and an apron, spread out a trash bag under your feet or on your table…trust us, it gets into a lot of nooks and crannies.
- Use a big bin with a baker’s cooling rack set over it to dye. This way the dye runs off and your garment is not soaking in the excess dye.
- Towel off your rack in between pieces so that they don’t pick up excess dye that was leftover. We even pour the dye that has gathered at the bottom of the bin into a tray so it stays relatively clean in between batches.
- It’s fun to make sets! Try dying a top and bottoms in the same pattern for a total look.
- Test out color combos on a dishtowel or rag—that way you can identify what looks good together.
- Mostly all of this gear can be ordered online (we order dye and soda ash on Blick) but we also love hitting the restaurant supply store for bus bins, squeeze bottles, racks, and other small containers to store dye, soda ash, bands…etc.