Updated on September 26, 2022 by Sarina

TIE DYE patterns

Looking at all those beautiful tie dye patterns in magazines and websites I used to think that tie & dye is one complicated thing that only an expert should attempt. The fact that I am writing this post is a testimony to the fact that anyone can do it.

You just need some fabric dye, suitable fabric, some tying things like strings, rubber bands and a pair of disposable gloves. Then everything is in your hands. Your creativity and endeavor make all those designs on the fabric.

If you do not know a single thing about tie and dye checkout this post first –  How to do TIE DYE – 6 Basic techniques to make tie and dye patterns on fabric.

Related posts : What is Tie and Dye : 8 different techniques from around the world; Different types of fabric dyes; How to dye fabric – an overview.

How to create 10 easy Tie Dye patterns

1. Marbling

Marbled tie and dye designs

This design is a result of scrunching the fabric and then tie and dyeing.

Twist and scrunch the fabric and then twist and tie a thread around in a random fashion over the area where you want the pattern. You can gather the fabric up into random wrinkles by spreading your hands out and crumpling it into a tube shape.

scrunch the fabric and tie tightly with cord before dyeing

Now start tying it up with the thick binding thread. Do not tie too closely together – you need small areas where the dye will seep through to form the marbled uneven textured pattern.

Dye the scrunced fabric

Open it up to find those beautiful marbled tie dye patterns.

2. Thick Horizontal Striped tie and dye design

a single thick striped pattern can be achieved in tie and dye by wrapping cord in a particular place

To make a thick striped pattern, roll the fabric into a tube. And then just one area(where you want the base color of the fabric to show through) is tied.

Tie the fabric on a particular area with cord tightly

Tie very tightly and very densely with thick thread across the fabric – the tying width should be equal to the width of the horizontal line you want. You can arrange the ties according to how you want the stripes to be.

Dye as usual. 

3. Small Diamond shapes /Circles

small diamond shaped tie and dye designs

These Circular shapes are made by pinching specific areas in the fabric and then knotting with thread. When you take more fabric and tie, you get a bigger circle. The smaller the fabric pinched, smaller the circle. 

small balls are inserted inside fabric and then tied at the neck tightly - this will create the diamond patterns

Here, I am inserting small beads inside these knots – this will ensure that you get consistently same sized shapes. The shape also will depend on the amount of thread you tie around the pinched fabric.

The resultant tie dye patterns will look like small round shaped prints on your fabric – these designs are called buti in indian printing. When designs are formed with these small shapes the printing is called bandani.

4. Several Circles

circular designs in tie dye can be achieved by tying with cord at several places

To make this pattern you can pinch the fabric by the middle.

Fabric is pinched by the center

And then tie with thread at several intervals.

for making circular tie and dye designs tye cord at regular interval over scrunced fabric

5. Diagonal lines

diagonal tye dye designs - directions to do at home

For this, you have to fold the fabric by the diagonal. You can also twist the fabric. 

diagonal striped tie dye designs - scrunch the fabric diagonally

I have just scrunched the fabric by the diagonal.

scrunch the fabric diagonally and tie in several places

Tie fabric at regular intervals starting from the middle. Now do your tie dyeing. The tied portions will appear as diagonal lines on your fabric.

This type of pattern is called Lehariya pattern in Indian tie and dye. 

6. Spiral shaped designs

spiral tie dyed fabric designs

To make these types of designs, you can twist the fabric by the middle. You need to swirl the fabric around a center point

tie dye designs - DIY -pinch the fabric by the middle twisting the center

Lay your fabric on the floor. Pinch the fabric by the middle (with your thumb and forefinger) and start to swirl it around.

tie and dye fabric tutorial - coil the fabric in a circular shape.

Twist and form the fabric into a round shape. You will get a flower shape.

tie dye fabric tutorial - tie the scrunched and coiled fabric by the middle

Tie with thread by the middle. When you tie, how much folds rise up will decide what kind of spiral you get.

dip the coiled and tyed fabric in the tie dye solution

Put the fabric into the dye path from the back of this tied fabric. After the dye is set (after 15 minutes or so) squirt dye to the front of the folds. Do not soak full. Just on the top.

Dry. You get a spiral design.This will vary according to the way you swirl.

You can also swirl it so that the fabric is formed into a tube and then coil it. Then tie it into sections. Squirt dye on the roll you have – this method is good for making a swirl pattern with different colors

Another type of swirls can be made this way:

Pinch the fabric by the middle

pinch the fabric by the middle

Twist the fabric from the tip.

twist and then tie with cord - tie dye designs

Tie with strings at intervals. Dye. Result is this.

concentric circles in tie dye

7. Outline Checks

checkered tie dye patterns for clothes

For making a check design you need to fold the fabric into pleats.

pleat the fabric in accordian pleats

Then fold them again.

fold again

Now you need to tie it by using the binding thread.

tie the folded fabric horizontally and vertically to get the chequered DIY tie dye designs

Tie your thread vertically and horizontally.

Tie very tightly. You can dye now.

You can also get a checked effect by folding the fabric in accordion pleats and then tying across at several intervals – this also gives an almost similar chequered look.

8. Solid checks

solid shaped checkered tie and dye patterns

This check design is made by folding the fabric and dipping the fabric in dye.

Fold the fabric by the middle first. Then fold again by the middle.

Now fold the fabric as in the picture below.

pleat the fabric and then turn the corners to the front

Now turn the fold the fabric into triangular shapes as in the picture below.

make triangular shapes with the pleated fabric

Dip the two corners of your triangular shape.

Dip dye to get the solid patterns in this tie dye method
Dip dyed pleated fabric

After it is dry, open up and you get these chequered shapes.

9. Streaks

streaky patterns with tie and dye

To make this beautiful streak pattern, first tie your fabric around a tubular object like a plastic pipe.

pole wrapping in the DIY tie and dye technique results in rain like streaky patterns on fabric
Pole warpping with cord

Now tie thread over this in a random fashion, overlapping, crisscrossing etc.

make streaky tie dye designs like rain falling by dyeing fabric wrapped around a pole/tube 

Dye this – if the vessel is not big enough to accommodate the pipe, you can pour the dye over the fabric with a plastic spoon(place it on a plastic surface or on newspapers to avoid the mess).

Related post: Arashi shibori dyeing tutorial.

10. Zig zag patterns in tie and dye designs

tie dye design tutorial for making zig zag shaped designs

To get this pattern,fold your fabric into accordion pleats by the diagonal direction.

fold the fabric; pleat the fabric by the diagonal and then fold into small shapes  

and then fold it into a small pack by folding horizontally as well.

Tie with string across by the middle.

tie dye

Dip your fabric pack into the dye bath on one end only. Dye for the stipulated time. You will get this pattern.

Shibori is very similar to tie and dye and creates some wonderful dyed patterns. You can checkout the post on shibori dyeing here for similar folding techniques and more.

Related posts: Different types of fabric dyes; How to dye fabric – an overview.; How to do fabric painting.; Nui shibori dyeing ; Arashi shibori 

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