What is Tie and dye ? (8 different types)

what is tie and dye

Tie and dye is a self explanatory term – you just tie and then dye fabric.

It is a resist dyeing method in which the areas you do not want dyed are blocked using different methods of tying and then the fabric is dyed; the areas that are tied remain undyed resulting in beautiful patterns.

It is a very simple and inexpensive way to decorative plain clothes with beautiful and intricate looking patterns, with very little effort. And this art is seeing a resurgence today – you can read about it on this article in The Wallstreetjournal.

tie and dye

Tie & Dye -Different methods from all around the world

If you are looking for a step by step method to do tie and dye checkout this post – Different techniques used to do tie and dye

Technique wise it is the same as any fabric dyeing process – you use dyes like regular packet dyes, fiber reactive dyes, acid and vat dyes to dye the fabric. The difference is that instead of the whole cloth, only parts of the fabric are dyed because you tie the fabric where you do not want the dye to penetrate. The area along the ties remain undyed.

The dyed area are not sharply demarcated – there is a blurring of the lines resulting in the beautifully abstract appearance of the tie-dyed fabric. 

A variety of tying methods are used in which the fabric is twisted folded, coiled, crumpled, or even gathered and stitched and then tied. The only condition for fabric is that you should use an absorbent fabric. 

tshirt tied with ealstic and dyeing with dye in squeeze bottle

There is no end to the kind of patterns that can be made by using the tie and dye techniques, because you can manipulate the tying in n number of ways. Favourite patterns include a marbling effect, diamond shape, spiral shapes, lines.

Tie and dye is not a new dyeing process for humans. Some beautifully patterned tie and dyed fabric have been discovered in Peru which dates bak to 500 AD. 

Different types of Tie and dye around the world

Bandhej/ Bandhani

tie dye

This is the Indian technique of Tie and Dye in which small areas of fabric are tied into a point creating small diamond shaped patterns.

Small dots are made on the fabric by tying fabric with thread into a point at regular intervals. These diamond shaped patterns can be made in a random pattern or in a way resulting in them forming a motif.

In India, this craft is practiced in the states Rajastan and Gujarat. Small grains are kept inside the sarees and then they are tie and dyed to get these small dot patterns.


This technique involves making stitches on the fabric. The fabric is  gathered by stitching randomly or by stitching in specific patterns. Nui shibori is a variation of this tie dye.

You can read more about nui shibori here.

nui shibori stitch-resist dyeing

Running stitches are used to stitch on the fabric. When you take out the fabric after dyeing you will find beautiful patterns in the shape of the stitched thread. 


ikat fabric pattern

In this method, the yarn is tied and dyed before it is made into the fabric. 


This is a tie and dye technique which originated in Japan. In this technique, fabric is wrapped over a variety of objects like wood, plastic tubes, rope and then cord/string/thread is used to tie the fabric to these objects.

arashi dyed fabric will have pleats which you may have to iron flat

When you dye this fabric you get beautiful overall patterns, because the area of the fabric under the binding cord and against the core object would not be dyed. As a result, beautiful patterns are formed on the fabric surface .

Read more Shibori techniques and about pole wrapped shibori – Arashi shibori here.

Mudmee tie-dye

tie and dye

This is a tie and dye technique that is originally from Thailand. In this method, subdued and dark colours are used. Black is also used along with other dark colours. Random patterns are made on the fabric but they are beautiful in their own way.


This Indian technique results in wavy lines on fabric. It is popularly used in sarees and shawls.


This is a Nigerian Tie and Dye technique in which Indigo fabric is dyed in this way

Zha Ran

This is a Chinese tie and dye technique which creates a fabric with a mottled appearance. Learn more about this technique here

Plangi tie and Dye

This is the name of tie and dye practised in Indonesia and African countries – in this method cloth is rolled and tied together with leaves and other things to shield some areas from absorbing dye. Beautiful and colorful floral patterns are made in this way on the cloth. The patterns are similar to bandani prints described above. 

Different names for tie dye according the patterns

1.Bulls eye Tie dye

Bulls eye tie dye

2.Spiral Tie dye

spiral tie dye

More like this:

3.Crumple Tie dye

crumple tie dye

4. Folded Tie dye

folded tie dye

5. Sun burst Tie dye

sunburst tie dye

6. Shibori Tie dye

shibori tie dye

6. Striped Tie dye

History of Tie Dye and present day interest

Since man discovered coloring their textiles and started to dye clothes, there have been questions about how to enhance this. Tie and dye must be one method that came out of this. Tying and dyeing have been done in India and China for thousands of years. There are mentions of tie and dye in texts in the American continent dating back to the 12th century. There are mural images in Arizona and New Mexico that look like tie and dye clothing.  

But tie and dye came to the notice of mainstream fashion only by the 1960s when hippie culture and counterculture thought of different and eclectic ways to decorate fabrics.

Since then, tie and dye have been in out of fashion in small ways, but essentially, it has been confined as a craft activity for kids’ parties. And instead of everyday clothing and natural dyeing, nowadays cotton knit tshirts are tie dyed using rubber bands, squeeze bottles and cold chemical dyes. 

During the pandemic imposed holidays many people found solace in creative activities like tie and dye. This new interest has been noticed by the designers too and you can see many clothes with tie dye prints on them on shops. After I started taking an interest in tie and dye, it seems as if everywhere I go I see tie dyed clothing. Is it only me?

tie and dye in clothing

Books to read on Tie and Dye

  • Tie and Dye as a present day craft – Anne Maile
  • Tie -Dye : Dye it, wear it, Share it – Simon-Alexander
  • Batik and Tie dye techniques – Nancy Belfer

Related post : Resist printing – 3 DIY methods ; T-shirt printing methods.; How to dye clothes

Updated on November 16, 2022 by Sarina Tariq


Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

3 thoughts on “What is Tie and dye ? (8 different types)”

Leave a Comment