Add some life to your old hoodie by learning the proper way how to tie dye a hoodie. Hoodies are usually bulky, so we understand if most beginners get intimidated and refrain from tie-dying them. However, it isn’t as complicated as you’d expect; that is as long as you have the basic skills of tie-dying fabric.
How to Tie Dye a Hoodie - Standard Method
Tie-dying a hoodie is a beneficial skill because hoodies are one of the most versatile garment pieces, perfect for your flats, heels, skirts, shorts, and pants. You can also use this technique to make tie dye sweatshirts or tie dye sweatpants. The best hoodie to use is a 100% cotton or natural fabric, white one. Sweatshirt fabric sometimes has polyester mixed in with the cotton, so check the label has no more than 20% polyester. My sample white hoodie was 85% cotton and 15% polyester.
Whether you want to keep using your old hoodie because of sentimental value or don’t want to spend money on a new one, here are the seven steps of how to tie-dye a hoodie, that you should follow:
- Create a Pattern
- Apply the Dye
- Wash and Dry
Step #1 - Prepare
To tie-dye your hoodie, you need to prepare three things: materials, working area, and fixer.
- Dye suitable for tie dying. You can purchase specialty dyes in tie dye kits. These are usually powder dyes that you mix with water in an applicator bottle.
- Soda Ash (Some one-step dyes may not need this fixative.)
- Rubber Bands
- Garbage Bags and Plastic or Tarpaulin
- Measuring Cups
- Applicator Bottle/s (if not included in the dye kit)
- Rubber Gloves
Since you will be working with dyes, you must ensure that you don’t leave stains on your working surface. Thus, cover it with plastic or an old tarpaulin. Also, ensure that you choose a working area away from young kids and pets. An outdoor space will be perfect. Otherwise consider working over the kitchen sink or laundry.
Step #2 - Wash
It’s imperative to wash your hoodie to remove any dirt or oil present that may prevent the dye from getting absorbed completely. Place it in the washing machine or wash it manually, depending on the hoodie’s care label instructions. Then, spin dry or wring and air dry.
Step #3 - Soak
Prepare and Soak in Fixer
Check the label on your dyes. Most require you to use a fixer on your hoodie before dying. The soda ash fixer will make the fabric absorb the dyes better resulting in vibrant lasting colors.
Some one-step dyes such as the ones found in the popular Tulip tie-dye kits do not need a soda ash wash. If your dye doesn't require a fixer, just start with a damp hoodie and skip to the next step.
CAUTION - Make sure that you’re wearing your rubber gloves and eye protection while preparing the solution. If the solution gets in your eyes, simply flush it with clean water. If you feel any eye pain, have a professional check it ASAP. Keep kids and pets away while you are using soda ash.
To make a fixer solution, combine the right amount of soda ash and water in a bucket, as per the product’s instructions. If it doesn’t come with instructions, mix a gallon or 3.8 liters of water and 3⁄4 cups or 180 milliliters of soda ash. Set aside.
Take your damp hoodie and soak it in the fixer solution you prepared earlier for five to 10 minutes. Once saturated, take the hoodie out of the fixer and wring it. Then, lay it flat on a clean plastic, tarp, or plastic tablecloth.
Step #4 - Create Tie Dye Patterns
When it comes to how to tie-dye a hoodie, you’ll find an assortment of patterns that you can create. In fact, you can even create your own! You can combine different techniques for the hood, sleeves, and body. In my sample, I used a striped technique for the sleeves and a bullseye for the body. Due to the thickness of most hoodies compared to t-shirts, it is best to tie the front and back separately.
That said, here are some of the highly suggested patterns for beginners:
- Diagonal Stripes
Pattern #1 - Bullseye
To create this familiar and popular pattern, follow these steps:
- With your hoodie laying flat, pinch the middle part, ensuring you take both the hoodie’s front and back. Then grab it, raising the hoodie about 2.5cm or one inch.
- Tightly tie a rubber band around its rise.
- Take another rubber band and tie it an inch below the first rubber band. Do this until your hoodie becomes cylindrical.
Pattern #2 - Sunburst
Another popular pattern you’ll find when learning how to tie-dye a hoodie is a sunburst that you can achieve by following these steps:
- Pinch a small spot of your hoodie, ensuring you’re grabbing both front and back parts.
- Secure the pinched fabric by tightly tying a rubber band around it.
- Repeat the steps until you have enough pinched and tied spots.
Pattern #3 - Diagonal Stripes
Also known as the accordion-style pattern, here are the steps to give your hoodie diagonal stripes:
- Take one of hoodie's bottom corners and fold it to about two inches or 5.1 cms toward the opposite shoulder.
- Keep flipping and folding your hoodie until it turns into a 5.1cm or two-inch rectangle.
- Take a rubber band and secure the folded hoodie.
Step #5 - Apply the Dye
There are two different ways to apply the dye or dyes, namely:
- Bucket Method
- Applicator Bottle Method
Method #1 - Using the Bucket
This technique on how to tie dye a hoodie is perfect for those who want to use one color only, but you can also use two or more colors. With those in mind, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Dilute the dye in the bucket by following the label instructions. Mix with a metal spoon and allow to dissolve completely. If you plan to use more than one color for your tie-dyed hoodie, use different buckets for each color.
- Soak the whole hoodie in the bucket for 30 minutes for one-color tie-dyed hoodies. For two-color tie-dyed hoodies, soak half of the hoodie for 30 minutes, and then lift. Then, soak the other half in the other bucket for 30 minutes.
- Remove the hoodie from the bucket.
- Wrap the dyed hoodie in a plastic bag or place it in a Ziploc bag.
- Allow to sit for two hours or overnight, depending on your preference or the dye instructions.
Method #2 - Applicator Bottle
For this method, here are the things you need to do:
- If you didn’t purchase liquid dye in applicator squeeze bottles, dilute the powder dye in the applicator bottle following the product instructions. Like the bucket method on how to tie dye a hoodie, use one applicator bottle for each color you want to use.
- Place the hoodie on a baking rack suspended over a large dish or bucket. This will catch the dye underneath.
- Gently squirt the dye in one or more areas of the hoodie. Be creative when using several colors by distributing the colors unevenly on the hoodie.
- Wrap the dyed hoodie in a plastic bag or place it in a Ziploc bag.
- Allow to sit for two hours or overnight, depending on your preference or the dye instructions. The Tulip dyes I used recommended 6-8 hours. I left my sample for around 8 hours.
Step #6 - Rinse
Once you’re happy with how long your hoodie has been soaking in the dye, here’s what you need to do:
- Take the tie-dyed hoodie out of the plastic wrap or Ziploc.
- Remove or cut the rubber bands.
- Rinse your tie-dyed hoodie in running cold water until the water runs clear or clean to remove excess dye. You can also use a basin or bucket filled with cold water.
Step #7 - Wash and Dry
Once you’re done removing the excess dye, the next step on how to tie dye a hoodie is to wash your tie-dyed hoodie properly. Depending on your hoodie’s care instruction or laundry symbols, you can launder it manually using cold water or in the washer using the cold cycle.
Make sure you use mild detergent since strong and special detergent formulas can lead to dye bleeding. Also, don’t wash the tie-dyed hoodie with your other fabrics, as it may color your other items. Lastly, expect to wash the hoodie a few times since you need to ensure the dye doesn’t bleed anymore.
Once done, place your hoodie in the dryer or allow it to air dry in a shaded but well-ventilated area.
How to Tie Dye a Hoodie - The Bleach Method
Another way to tie dye your hoodie is by using bleach. Also known as reverse tie dye, you remove color in some areas of the hoodie instead of adding color. Additionally, ensure you wear protective rubber gloves as bleach can be toxic. You can also consider wearing a face mask and goggles, especially if your working area isn’t well-ventilated.
The process is similar to reverse tie-dying your t-shirt and other fabric-made items, wherein you would need to follow these steps:
- Prepare the hoodie by soaking it in warm water for about five minutes. Wring it to remove excess water, and then spin dry.
- Tie the fabric to create a pattern. You can use the same patterns as above.
- Apply diluted bleach by either spraying, pouring, or submerging. For detailed instructions for each method, refer to this guide.
- Rinse the reverse tie-dyed hoodie in a bucket full of water, and then cut the rubber bands. Then, gently swirl the hoodie to rinse off the bleach. Move it to another bucket of water for final rinsing.
- Neutralize the reverse-tie-dyed hoodie to remove any clinging bleach by pouring 3% hydrogen peroxide on the hoodie.
- Depending on your hoodie’s care instruction, you can launder it manually using cold water or in the washer using the cold cycle. Once done, place your hoodie in the dryer or allow it to air dry in a shaded but well-ventilated area.
How to Tie Dye a Hoodie - In Conclusion
With the standard and reverse methods on how to tie dye a hoodie you just learned, you can turn your old and boring hoodie into a piece of art that you can wear anytime! As a beginner, consider practicing on old fabrics or worn-out or torn hoodies. Nonetheless, don’t be afraid to create imperfect patterns. After all, art is all about creativity and uniqueness.
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