18 Realistic Things to Tie-Dye at Home (+ Tips from a Pro)

I’ve been dyeing clothes and fabric for years. I even dyed my wedding dress, and I’ve taught dyeing workshops in New Zealand. Here are 18 things to tie-dye at home. I’ve included tips to help you succeed with each project, and rated whether they’re beginner-friendly ideas or not.

Clothes & wearables to tie-dye:

Home decor tie-dye projects:

Small things to tie-dye:

Cheap things to tie-dye:

Things to tie-dye at a party for kids and adults:

Q&A’s about tie-dyeing:

Clothes & wearables to tie-dye:

  • T-shirts (beginner-friendly)
  • Hoodies (intermediate project)
  • Jeans (intermediate project)


  • Why tie-dye this item? T-shirts are the quintessential tie-dyed item! They’re easy to wear and they can be dyed in hundreds of different design variations.
  • Tips: For best results, choose a 100% cotton t-shirt that’s been stitched with cotton thread. Most tees are stitched with polyester thread so it’s worth noting that this may not absorb the dye in the same way the fabric does. You can dye shirts that have things printed on them (like logos or designs), but some screen printing inks may also absorb dyes, so be prepared for a bit of color shift.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Definitely! T-shirts aren’t a terribly complex shape, they’re usually made from a stable knit fabric, and choosing one with short sleeves will make it easier to tie.


  • Why tie-dye this item? Hoodies are a trendy item to add to your tie-dye wardrobe at any age.
  • Tips: Hoodies will require more dye than you might think due to the thickness of the fabric. Be sure to dye on a raised grate surface (I like a cookie drying rack) so that the dye can drip through without pooling. 
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Hoodies are a bit more complex than a complete beginner project, although they’re not difficult to dye. Since they’re larger and bulkier they’re more difficult to handle during the dyeing process.
4 colorful tie dyed hoodies with 2 men wearing them
Photo credit (from top left): Superdry, Shein, Superdry, Just Hype.


  • Why tie-dye this item? This trendy tie-dye item can take multiple forms, from multicolored tie-dye to single color scrunch dye, and even bleach dyeing for darker denim washes.
  • Tips: If you’re “reverse” tie-dyeing with bleach, be sure to protect your surfaces to prevent damage. Be aware that some denims and some bleaches may cause yellowing rather than true whitening.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? This is an intermediate dyeing project. It’s best if you’ve dyed a few other items before so that you’re familiar with the process.

Home decor tie-dye projects:

  • Sheets and bedding (intermediate project)
  • Napkins (beginner-friendly)
  • Tablecloth (confident beginner project)
  • Curtains (confident beginner project)

Sheets and Bedding

  • Why tie-dye this item? Tie-dyed bedding is the ultimate cool look for a colorful bedroom! You can also dye your flat sheets in complex mandala patterns and use them as a wall hanging, or just display them on your bed.
  • Tips: Space is key when tie-dyeing large items. This is a perfect summer project to do outside, just in case your dye splashes. Stay off concrete surfaces like driveways. A lawn won’t mind a bit of dye splash, but a splattered driveway is very noticeable, especially if you’re using red dye! Set your station up beforehand with a large bucket. You can use it to transport large tie-dyed items inside to the washing machine when it’s time to wash them out.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? This project is best reserved for intermediate tie dyers, although a beginner could certainly be successful if they’re working with a friend who’s done it before.


  • Why tie-dye this item? The perfect pop of color at a holiday gathering or summer barbeque, cloth napkins are a great project to experiment with tie-dye designs.
  • Tips: Find napkins that are as high in natural fibers as possible, like cotton or linen. Polyester won’t be as vibrant. Avoid napkins that are treated with “stain resistant” chemicals. Or use old napkins that are already stained. Tie-dye is a great way to breathe new life into old objects. I like to remove the care tags before I start dyeing as these are plastic and won’t absorb the dye. 
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Napkins are small and evenly shaped, so they make a great beginner project – and they’re perfect to make as gifts, too!


  • Why tie-dye this item? A trendy way to jazz up your summer bbq or birthday party, tablecloths are a perfect blank canvas to display your tie-dye skills. Plus, tie-dye will help hide any unfortunate stains.
  • Tips: Follow the tips in the “sheets and bedding” section as tablecloths are also quite large to handle, and be sure to find one that is as high in natural fibers as possible. Avoid coatings like PVC or vinyl that won’t absorb dye. If you’d like to add a bit of stain resistance to your tablecloth, you can spray it with a water-repellant after you’ve finished the dyeing process.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Tablecloths are large and can sometimes be unwieldy, but a confident beginner can definitely tie-dye a tablecloth.


  • Why tie-dye this item? Imagine sunlight filtering through multicolored curtains: a kaleidoscope of colors dappled across the room. If this sounds appealing, then make yourself some tie-dyed curtains today.
  • Tips: Sheer curtains can be just as beautiful as opaque – think about the look you’re going for and choose accordingly. Look for natural fibers, but be aware that the threads your curtains are stitched with are very unlikely to be natural fibers, so they may not absorb dye in the same way.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? As with the other larger sized items in this section, a confident beginner can tackle curtains, but it may be wise to have a few other projects under your belt first so you’re familiar with the process.

Small things to tie-dye:

  • Baby rompers and onesies (beginner-friendly)
  • Socks (beginner-friendly)
  • Tote bags (beginner-friendly)
  • Shorts (confident beginner project)
  • Trainers (confident beginner project)

Rompers and Onesies

  • Why tie-dye this item? Onesies and rompers make the perfect gift for an expecting mother, and you can add your own style with a splash of color.
  • Tips: Not every baby item can be spiraled neatly into that traditional pinwheel dye pattern we’re familiar with. If you’re not sure how you’d make that pattern on the particular garment you have, try something like a bubble or scrunch tie-dye pattern instead.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Baby clothes make a great beginner-friendly project as they’re small and easy to handle. If you’ve never tie-dyed before, try to stick to simpler shapes (as close to rectangular as possible) or choose a scrunch-dye pattern.


  • Why tie-dye this item? Socks are trendy, a great summer holiday or festival item, and they’re about as close to instant gratification as you can get with tie-dye!
  • Tips: As a rule, socks with as much cotton as possible will yield the most vibrant result, but it’s okay if yours contain a small percentage of elastane. Socks are usually woven so that the elastic is inside the sock so it’ll be less visible. Some cotton-blend socks have higher polyester percentages in high-wear areas like heels and toes, so be aware that your tie-dye may not absorb evenly over the whole sock. But hey, that’s part of the charm!
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Absolutely.
purple tie dye socks and blue-yellow socks
Photo credit: ASOS.

Tote Bags

  • Why tie-dye this item? If you’re not ready to commit to a garment but want a bit of color, tote bags are a great idea.
  • Tips: The easiest shape to dye is a rectangle, so a flat rectangular tote bag is a great canvas. You can either tuck the straps in, or hold them away when dyeing to make them a contrasting color. If you can’t find a tote bag that’s made from natural fibers (like linen or cotton) and also stitched with cotton thread, then choose a bag with no visible stitching on the outside.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? A complete beginner could handle a tote bag with ease – but why stop at one? Dye yourself a whole set to experiment with designs.


  • Why tie-dye this item? Shorts are easy to dye, quick, and can make a trendy addition to your summer wardrobe.
  • Tips: Depending on the shorts you choose to dye, you may have bulky areas like closures or pockets. It can be helpful to add clothespins to hold pleats as you’re tying your shorts into the shape you want for dyeing. Don’t forget to remove these before you apply the dye. 
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? A confident beginner could easily dye shorts.

Trainers (like Converse and Vans)

  • Why tie-dye this item? Tie your outfit together with a pair of dyed canvas trainers.
  • Tips: Shoes are a bit different to dye than other projects. They can’t be scrunched up and dyed in the same way a t-shirt can, but you can still achieve an epic result. Apply dye with a squeeze bottle that has a small nozzle, and allow the colors to mix over the surface of the shoe. If you want more mixing, apply some water to promote this. Be sure to remove the shoelaces and mask off rubber areas of the shoe with tape as natural rubber may absorb dye.  
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? There are a few extra steps to follow when dyeing shoes, but overall, it’s nothing a confident beginner wouldn’t be able to manage.
tie-dye converse and vans trainers
Photo credit (from top): Urban Outfitters, Vans, Zalando.

Cheap things to tie-dye:

  • Towels (beginner-friendly)
  • Bandanas (beginner-friendly)
  • Shoelaces (beginner-friendly)


  • Why tie-dye this item? This is a great idea for a beginner looking to dye without spending too much on dyeables. Breathe new life into old, stained household towels by turning them into colorful tie-dye beach towels!
  • Tips: Towels are bulky and they’re designed to absorb liquids, so mix extra dye. Dye your towels on a raised surface (like a cookie drying rack) to prevent pooling underneath, and flip them carefully to apply dye to the other side for an even application.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Definitely.
blue white tie dye beach towel and man wearing towel on shoulders
Photo credit: Surf Girl Beach Boutique.


  • Why tie-dye this item? Bandanas are a quick and easy accessory that can be used in a variety of ways – tied around your head, worn as a neckerchief, or tied to a coordinating tie-dyed tote bag.
  • Tips: On the opposite end of the spectrum from towels, bandannas are usually made of very lightweight fabric, and quite small. Apply dye lightly, since it’s easier to add more than it is to take away. They’re a perfect canvas to try out different dye techniques like bubbles, scrunch, bullseye, and the classic pinwheel.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Yes.


  • Why tie-dye this item? It’s the ultimate small accessory to test the waters with tie-dyeing. You’ll be hooked once you finish your first pair of laces.
  • Tips: 100% cotton shoelaces are best for tie-dyeing. Much like dyeing shoes, laces don’t require the traditional “tie” in tie-dyeing. Lay them out on a plastic-covered surface and apply dye in random patterns, allowing the colors to mix. You can add water to dilute and help colors mix if required. The result, when all tied up in your shoes, will be a technicolor masterpiece!
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Absolutely.

Things to tie-dye at a party for kids and adults:

  • Matching t-shirts (beginner-friendly)
  • Baby onesies (beginner-friendly)
  • Pillow covers (beginner-friendly)

Matching T-shirts

  • Why tie-dye this item? It’s our favorite tie-dyed base item again, but it really is perfect for groups. Whether you’re dyeing matching shirts for a family vacation or reunion, or just dyeing as a group at a birthday party, tees are the perfect base for tie-dye.
  • Tips: If you’re getting custom screen-printed shirts to tie-dye, have your designs printed in a dark color (black is best) so that the dye doesn’t bleed through and shift the colors. Make sure you have enough space for everyone to lay their t-shirts out flat, and organize a separate table for “tying” and “dyeing” to keep dye off of shirts before they’re ready. 
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? If you’re dyeing in a group, it’s helpful to have at least one person who has tie dyed before – but the rest can certainly be beginners.

Baby Onesies

  • Why tie-dye this item? Plan tie-dyed onesies as a baby shower activity for the expectant mother in your life. Baby clothes are small and easy to dye, so each party-goer can dye a few to contribute.
  • Tips: As above, tie-dyeing in a group is best done with a separate “tie” and “dye” table. If all the baby garments are going to one place in the end, you can leave them with one person to be washed out post tie-dye and delivered at once. But if not, be sure to label your items so you know which ones are yours. Tape with names looped around a rubber band works well.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? As above, it’s best to have one person in your group who can assist with a bit of experience.

Pillow Cover

  • Why tie-dye this item? Pillow covers are a small tie-dye activity that will allow each person to add their own personal spin to things.
  • Tips: Pillow covers usually include a zipper which might be bulky. You can use clothespins to hold this in place as you’re tying, but be sure to remove it before you’re ready to dye.
  • Is this a beginner-friendly project? Absolutely.

Q: What material does tie-dye work best on?

Tie-dye is best done on natural cellulose fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, or bamboo. You can tie-dye wool and silk, but these dyes often require heat to set them, which adds an additional layer of complexity to standard tie-dye projects. If you’re dyeing a blended item (such as a cotton/polyester t-shirt) you may need to use dyes that are formulated for blended fibers or synthetics. Be sure to read the dye packet first to ensure that heat isn’t a required step in the process.

Q: Can you tie-dye any white shirt?

You can tie-dye almost any white shirt. For the best results, your shirt should be 100% cotton (or another natural cellulose fiber) and it will be stitched with cotton thread. However, this is quite rare: shirts are usually constructed with polyester or nylon thread. If this is the case, your shirt’s exposed threads won’t dye with quite as vibrant a hue as the rest of the fabric.

Button-up shirts and other styles can also be dyed, especially if they’re made of cotton or a similar fiber. Some buttons may take the dye while others won’t, but you can swap buttons out after a dye project if you’re unhappy with the result. If your shirt has stains – especially deodorant stains in the armpits – tie dye can be a great option to cover these stains. However, keep in mind that these stains may affect dye uptake. Splotchy is all part of the game with tie-dye though!

Q: Can you tie-dye things that aren’t white? (ie. colored or patterned items)

You can tie-dye things that are already colored, but their color will impact the final result. For example, if you’re tie-dyeing a yellow item, adding blue dye will most likely create a green rather than a blue area. Keep this color mixing in mind when choosing colors, and stay away from secondary colors which may become various shades of brown (unless that’s what you want).

You may also choose to reverse tie-dye by altering a dark-colored garment with bleach. This works on black t-shirts and jeans. If you’re choosing this method, keep in mind that bleach can sometimes produce a yellow faded look rather than white, and it can sometimes damage the fabric if not diluted. It’s best to experiment on an inconspicuous area of your item.

Q: What things can you not tie dye?

If your item can’t be tied, then technically it can’t be tie-dyed, but that doesn’t have to stop you. For example, trainers can’t be scrunched up and tied, but you can still apply dye to them and allow the colors to mix together. As long as your item will accept the dye (this is why we recommend cotton or other cellulose-based natural fibers), and you’ve come up with a way to apply it, then you can “tie” dye it.

What to read next:

This article was written by Kat Waters and edited by Sara Maker.

Kat Waters (author)
Kat has been sewing since her feet could reach the pedals, starting with quilts she made with her mom and eventually graduating to garments. She now makes everything she wears, occasionally teaches classes, and shares her projects on social media. Highlights include her wedding dress, shoemaking, and a love for almost any fabric that comes in hot pink! Read more…