finished tie dyed socks

Originally posted by Dreamer Jules on August 28th, 2020.

It’s been awhile since we’ve featured a DIY tutorial on the blog. We wanted to change that, while hopefully bringing some joy to your day! You may have noticed that tie dye as a fashion statement has continued to explode in popularity over the last year, rocketing to new 21st century heights while many people have been under some form of quarantine, looking for an outlet. If you Google ‘tie dye’, you’ll find dozens of articles as to how and why the fervor surrounding this psychedelic art form has reignited; many of the articles’ authors point to how therapeutic the process can be. There’s something about seeing captivating patterns and swirling bright colors blending into one another that transports us to a different time and place, like summer camp when we were kids. It’s also a great way to upcycle old clothing that you’re getting bored with. As it turns out, tie dye just may be one of the most accessible crafts out there, so we wanted to show you some basic techniques that anyone can do at home with the right materials.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

tie dye supplies

A note: there are *tons* of dyeing techniques, and it’s been said that there’s no wrong way to tie dye (unless you forget to fix your dye & it comes out in your washer!). For simplicity’s sake, I went with a Jacquard Tie Dye Kit that includes the basics:

  • fabric dye
  • soda ash dye fixer
  • rubber gloves
  • rubber bands

Other things you’ll want to have on hand:

  • dropcloth
  • bucket for water
  • an extra pair of gloves

It probably goes without saying, but I’ll mention it right out of the gate: tie dye is messy! I found it helpful to have paper towels/newspaper around to protect my workspace. A dropcloth and (optional) drying rack of some sort helps catch excess dye as it drips and splashes around…which WILL happen! Fabric dye will stain anything it touches, including surfaces, clothing and your skin: I had an extra pair of rubber gloves and alternated between pairs as they got wet & dye-covered, to give them a chance to dry a bit.

adding soda ash to bucketsoaking fabric in bucket

Pour your soda ash fixer into 2 gallons of hot water in your bucket, then soak all of your fabric for 20 minutes. While you’re waiting on the fixer to work its magic, you’ll fill the dye bottles to their fill line with warm water and give them a good shake. When ready, wring the soda ash fixer water out of your fabric, but *do not rinse*. The soda ash fixer water can be reused to fix multiple batches.

I wanted to see how a variety of our house-brand socks would handle the process, so for this tutorial we’ll be dyeing Extraordinarily Longer Thigh High Socks, Longer O Chevrons and Vertically Inclined Stockings [editor's note - this style is no longer available], plus a tank top to show off a classic pattern. There’s a plethora of fabric dye options available: the Jacquard kit includes dye for use on ‘100% natural fibers only’, but I was able to dye the aforementioned products which all have a small nylon, acrylic or spandex content. Select a dye that is most appropriate for the fabric you’ll be using!

folding socks for tie dyefolding socks for tie dye

As this was the first pair I attempted dyeing, I didn’t really get the effect I was going for. I wanted to create a sort of rainbow arc pattern, but I made quite a mess. And that’s okay! It’s all part of the learning process. To begin, I started folding my Extraordinarily Longers as shown in the photos above.

rubber banding folded socksrubber banding folded socks

When it comes time to start rubber-banding sections of your fabric, I found it super helpful to have a couple rubber bands around my pointer finger on my dominant hand. That way, you can easily place your rubber band where you want it with minimal disturbance to the fabric. This is important because it’s easy to accidentally get dye where you didn’t mean to, so you’ll want to mind where your fingers are (and how dirty your gloves have become, hence the spare pair).

rubber banded socks

Eventually you’ll end up with something like what’s pictured here. You could continue adding rubber bands all the way down the garment if you’d like; I stopped a little over halfway down in an attempt to keep the bottom of the socks white.

applying dye

Now the real fun can begin! As I was going for a rainbow effect, I alternated dye colors on the rubber banded portions. Fully saturated dye is intense, and you’ll quickly get a feel for how much you need to apply to any given section.

dyed socks in bag

Once you’re done applying dye, you’ll carefully wrap the garment in plastic or put it in a gallon freezer bag to set overnight. The Jacquard kit instructions recommend allowing the dye to set for 12-24 hours. I wanted the cuffs & bottoms of the sock to stay white, but I made such a mess getting them into the bag that dye still ended up on several white parts. This will also happen if two different-colored-dyed bits touch. That’s why it pays to be careful when bagging/wrapping!

rubber banding O Cheverons
scrunched and rubber banded socks
dyed socks

For the Longer O Chevrons, I went with a classic ‘scrunch’ technique, twisting & layering the fabric in random rubber-banded sections until they resemble weird intestines.

rubber banded socks
applying dye to socks
dyed and rubber banded socks

For the second pair of Extraordinarily Longers, I tried my own spin on a scrunch technique. This time I alternated rubber bands back & forth on either side of both socks. I wanted to see what would happen if I combined colors to splatter-dye the middle, so I mixed a small amount of blue dye with a slightly larger amount of red in a separate container and Jackson Pollocked those bad boys!

tank toptank top being twisted
twisted and rubber banded tank toprubber banded tank top with dye applied

I was eager to create the mythical spiral pattern, or what most folks know as the ‘classic tie dye shirt’ pattern. I used a tank top, but this effect could probably be achieved on most any kind/shape of garment. Start by grabbing the center of the fabric with your fingers and twisting it into a ball. Flatten your fabric ball out into a ‘pizza’, then rubber band it into an equal number of slices. To create that lovely swirl effect, apply your colors in slices opposite to each other as shown in the last photo above. I felt like I was applying SO MUCH DYE to try & saturate the shirt with color…as you’ll see in the final result, I probably could’ve used even more, so don’t be shy!

socks being dyed with dilute dyesocks being dyed with dilute dye

At this point, I was starting to run low on dye. I added more warm water to the dye bottles to create a diluted ‘pastel’ effect for this last pair of Vertically Inclined Stockings.

garments in bags while the dye sets in

And now, with all 5 experiments sealed in bags to set overnight, we wait. Waiting is always the hardest part of anything, isn’t it?

Once you’ve let your creations set for 12-24 hours, it’s time to rinse the excess dye out with cold water. You’ll keep the rubber bands on during this part, though some will probably break while you’re rinsing. I rinsed all the garments in the same bucket from before until the water ran clear, carefully cut the remaining rubber bands off, then gave them their inaugural wash in the bathtub with mild detergent (I recommend doing this if you don’t own the washing machine you’d otherwise be using…just in case).

The Results

Finished tie dyed items laid flat
finished tie dyed socks laid flat

I think the results speak for themselves! You can see in these photos that some dye transfer happened due to user – creator? – error. Despite my best efforts, a couple of these pairs didn’t turn out at all how I thought they would: for the beginning dyer, it’s definitely a process of ‘happy accidents’. Don’t let that discourage you! It’s all about experimenting, having fun and creating something beautiful. If you want to practice your pattern techniques before diving straight into dyeing wearable clothes, grab a Dyer’s Batch Crafty Bundle and go nuts!

Tie dyed Longer O Cheverons being worn

 Thank you as always for joining us for another blog post. Have you created custom-dyed creations using any of our house-brand Dream Stockings or Dreamer Socks? We love to see the creativity of our fellow dreamers! Tag us on social media or reach out to us at!

Rosalind 🌙
Tagged: DIY Dye Jules Tie Dye