Tie Dye Socks: 3 Easy Fun Patterns
If you are new to tie dyeing, on a budget, or just want to try out a bunch of patterns, then this may be the project for you. Tie dye socks are super easy to create with a variety of techniques. I’ll walk through 3 simple patterns in the step-by-step guide below.
I purchased a pack of girls socks from Amazon as my kiddos definitely wanted to participate and wear them, however, any pack of cotton (or mostly cotton) socks will work. As with any tie dyeing, look for 100% cotton or at least 75% cotton to insure that the dye can really penetrate the fibers and produce the brightest colors. The socks I had were 80% cotton, 17% nylon and 3% spandex. I also used Tulip’s One Step Tie Dyes, which are my dye of choice for ease of use, quality of dye, and safety.
Ready to express your colorful style? Let’s go!
FOR COMPLETE TIE DYE 101 BASICS: HOW TO TIE DYE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
LOOKING FOR MORE THINGS TO TIE DYE? 30 THINGS TO TIE DYE
Tie Dye Socks
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- White Socks (Mens Sizes) (Womens Sizes) (Boys Sizes) (Girls Sizes)
- Rubber Bands
- Dye Kit (Which Includes Rubber Bands, Gloves, And A Plastic Sheet)
- Plastic/Rubber Gloves
- Plastic Covering For Work Surface
- Painter’s Tape (optional)
- Baking Tray With Rack (optional)
- Paper Towels/Rags
- Gallon Plastic Bag or Plastic Wrap
CREATING THE PATTERNS
For any of these designs, start with damp, but not wet, socks. The socks could be fresh out of the washing machine. If you washed them a different day, like I usually do, then just dunk the socks in a bucket of water or sink and wring them out before starting.
1. Lay the first sock flat on your work surface. Using your fingers, pinch where the center of the bullseye design should be (the top of the foot in this case) and start pulling the rest of the sock (top and bottom) back.
2. Wrap your first rubber band securely around the center of the bullseye. Continue to create additional rings with rubber bands until you have reached the end of the sock.
3. Repeat the process with the second sock.
NOTE: I did this technique with both socks rubber banded together. It creates the most consistent stripes between the socks, but also more white spots. If you want less white and more color, I suggest tying and dyeing each sock separately. It will use more dye, but you’ll also get more colorful socks.
1. Put both socks together on your work surface. Wrap the first rubber band at the top or bottom of the sock.
2. Continue creating additional rings with rubber bands until you have reached the end of the socks. Keep in mind that each ring is a stripe and they can be as thick or thin as you like. There are no rules.
1. Lay the sock flat on the work surface. Using your fingers, start to scrunch it together in the center. Once gathered up, place a rubber band around it.
2. Add the second, third, and fourth rubber bands as shown below, so it resembles an 8 slice pizza.
3. Repeat the process with the second sock.
DYEING THE SOCKS
Baking sheet/rack versus just a workspace covered in plastic: I have dyed MANY items 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 socks, 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 (and the ones I purchased are not expensive).
4. Set your socks on the baking sheet/cooling rack or covered workspace and put on your gloves.
5. For the bullseye pattern, start with the color of the center of the bullseye and add the dye to the end (where you put the first rubber band). Make sure to add extra dye and let it soak in, so it can get to the center of the sock. Turn the sock when needed to cover the entire tip. Continue adding color to each ring until the sock is completely dyed. Repeat with the second sock.
5. For the stripes pattern, start adding dye to one end of the sock(s). Make sure to add a lot of extra dye and let it soak in. This is especially important if you are dyeing the two socks together, so the dye can get to the center of the socks. Turn when needed to cover the entire ring. Continue adding color to each ring until the sock is completely dyed. If you are dyeing the socks individually, repeat with the second sock.
5. For the crumple pattern, start with your lightest or weakest color which is typically yellow or light pink and create a few spots on the socks. In my case, I was only using two colors (fuchsia and turquoise, so fuchsia went first). Make sure to add a bit of extra dye and let it soak in, so it can get to the center of the sock. Add the rest of the colors working your way around the socks. COLOR TIP: Since socks are much smaller than most items you’d tie dye (like shirts) you don’t need too many colors to create an interesting pattern. I only used two colors because I knew the fuchsia and turquoise would blend to create purple. Too many colors can blend into a muddy brown or black.
6. When you have finished dyeing the first side of the socks, carefully turn them over. You will want to wipe up any access dye on the rack or workspace before laying them down. Repeat the dyeing process starting with the lightest color again.
AFTER DYEING THE SOCKS
7. Once you have finished dyeing your socks in whatever pattern(s) you choose, carefully place them in the gallon plastic bag or wrap them 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. Preferably, use one bag per pair of socks.
8. Let the socks 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 socks. 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.
9. Take the socks out of the plastic bag and put them 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 socks 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 socks.
10. Repeat this rinse process several times until the water is fairly clear.
11. 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 them in a washing machine.
12. Once the socks are thoroughly rinsed, you can wash them in the washing machine either by themselves or with several other rinsed tie dye items. If I’m tie dyeing a bunch of items, I will put up to 6 in one load. Wash on warm or cold with a bit of detergent.
13. Dry the socks in the 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 socks by themselves or with other tie dye items for the next few washings before adding it in with your other clothes.
THE FINISHED TIE DYE SOCKS
And here are the results. 3 totally different patterns that are colorful and fun! My kids love them! Hopefully this inspires you to freshen up those white socks of yours. I especially liked that, since socks are fairly inexpensive, you can try out a number of different patterns and color combos quickly and easily.