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What is Tie and dye ? The 8 different types of tie and dye

Updated on by Sarina

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

How is tie and dye done? 

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. 

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.

Related post : 10 easy to do Tie and dye designs.

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. The Indonesia variety of this technique is known as Plangi.

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


This technique involves making stitches on the fabric. The fabric is  gathered by stitching randomly or by stitching in specific patterns. 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.

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 . 

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

Related post : How to do Tie Dye – 6 basic methods used.

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.

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