How To Heart Tie Dye

Heart tie dye technique

The heart tie dye pattern is one of my favorites. It’s easy to make, a great one for beginners or with kids. The heart shape is also sweet, yet bold and colorful.

You can use as many or as few colors as you like. It just depends on the number of rings you create with the rubber bands. For this design I have 7 colors. I am also using an Adult Medium 100% cotton t-shirt, but any size shirt will work. The dye kit I use is Tulip’s one step dye which I love for its ease of use and bright colors.

Ready to create a bold heart design? Let’s go!




What you’ll need:


Usually we start with a damp shirt, but for this design you’ll want to start with a dry shirt.

1. Fold the shirt in half length-wise and lay it down on the work surface.

Folding shirt in half lengthwise
Folding The Shirt In Half Lengthwise

2. Using the washable marker, draw the half of a heart in the center of the shirt.

Half heart drawn on shirt
Half Heart Is Drawn On The Shirt

3. Gather the shirt along the line of the heart. Once I have it completely gathered up I like to make the starting and ending points of the heart touch. That way it will be easier to wrap the rubber band around the marker line.

Gathering line of heart together
Gathering The Line Of The Heart Together

4. Take your first rubber band and wrap it around the marker line several times (so its tight). After the rubber band is on, you can adjust the marker line, if needed, in case it moved.

Securing line of heart with rubber band
Securing The Line Of The Heart With A Rubber Band

5. Add a second rubber band to the shirt to create a ring around the heart pattern.

Securing second ring of heart pattern with rubber band
Securing The Second Ring Of The Heart Pattern With A Rubber Band

6. Continue to create additional rings down the shirt with rubber bands until you have reached the end of the shirt.

Shirt completely secured with rubber bands
Shirt Completely Secured With Rubber Bands

7. Now is the time to make the shirt damp. Since the rubber bands are already in place, if the marker starts to wash off it will be fine. Dunk the shirt in a bucket of water or sink and wring it out before starting to dye.

Dyeing The Shirt

Baking sheet/rack versus just a workspace covered in plastic: I have dyed MANY shirts on just a covered workspace. As long as you have a ton of paper towels and are careful, you will be fine. It is, however, MUCH easier and more environmentally friendly (i.e. paper towel usage) if you use a baking sheet and rack because any excess dye goes directly onto the pan, away from your shirt, and you barely need to use any paper towels. If you plan on tie dyeing a number of items now or in the future I strongly suggest the investment.

8. Set your shirt on the baking sheet/cooling rack or covered workspace and put on your gloves. Start with the color of your heart and add the dye to the end with the marker heart pattern. Make sure to add extra dye and let it soak in, so it can get to the center of the shirt. Turn the shirt when needed to cover the entire tip.

Adding dye to heart shape on shirt
Adding The Dye To The Heart Shape On The Shirt

9. Add the second color to the ring next to the heart. As with the last color, turn the shirt when needed and be sure to let extra dye soak in.

Adding second color of dye to shirt
Adding The Second Color Of Dye To The Shirt

10. Continue adding color to each ring until the shirt is completely dyed.

Adding rest of colors to completely dye shirt
Adding The Rest Of The Colors To Completely Dye The Shirt

11. Once all of the shirt has been dyed, carefully place it in the gallon plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. Personally I prefer the plastic bag as you can easily seal it, label it (if you are dyeing more than one item) and move it if needed without worrying about dye leaking out.

12. Let the shirt sit for minimally 6-8 hours and up to 24 hours max, so the dye can cure. This will help produce the brightest colors.

Rinsing And Washing

Once the dye has cured, it’s time to rinse and wash the shirt. This is an important step as, if done in the wrong order or rushed, it can muddy up the nice colors and pattern you created.

13. Take the shirt out of the plastic bag and put it in a sink or bucket (something that can get dirty and won’t stain). We have a stainless steel kitchen sink, so I use that. You can cut/take off the rubber bands and then rinse the shirt in COLD water. The cold part is critical because it allows excess dye to wash out slowly while not dyeing the remaining white parts of the shirt.

14. Repeat this rinse process several times until the water is fairly clear.

15. Once the water is fairly clear, repeat the rinse process once more, but with luke warm water (not HOT). This should get the last bit of excess dye out before putting it in a washing machine.

16. Once the shirt is thoroughly rinsed, you can wash it in the washing machine either by itself or with several other rinsed tie dye items. If I’m tie dyeing a bunch of shirts, I will put up to 6 in one load. Wash on warm or cold with a bit of detergent.

17. Dry the shirt(s) in dryer or let air dry. Personally I prefer air drying as it extends the life of the dye color (as they will eventually fade a bit with washing and wear).

NOTE: Wash the shirt by itself or with other tie dye items for the next few washings before adding it in with your other clothes.

And now you have a one of a kind, beautiful, colorful heart tie dye shirt that you made! GREAT JOB!!
Finished heart tie dye shirt
Finished Heart Tie Dye Shirt

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