Different Types of Tie-Dye

    by Jennifer Garcia

    About the Author

    Jennifer Garcia has been a writer for several years, and currently lives in the Southwest as a reporter. She's had stories published in several Freedom Communications newspapers on the East Coast, as well as the "Santa Fe New Mexican" in the Southwest. Garcia's first job was at a newspaper, where she worked as a telemarketer. She studied journalism at Northern New Mexico College.


    Tie-dye has been around for decades. It was highly popular amongst the hippie movement of the '60s and '70s. Tie-dye utilizes vibrant colors and is easy to spot and identify. There are different designs that can be created using the tie-dyeing process and there are different types of tie-dye as well. The designs in tie-dye are made by using a variety of colors and patterns on different sections of the fabric.

    Global Influences

    There are a variety of tie-dye techniques that come from different parts of the world. They include bandhna, which hails from India, and tritik and plangi, which are derived from Indonesia. Additional varieties include mudmee, which originated in Thailand but is also used in Laos, and shibori, which started in Japan somewhere around the eighth century.


    Each type of technique has its own unique characteristics. Shibori, for example, includes applying elaborate patterns to the fabric and tightly gathering the stitching of the designs before the fabric is dyed. Mudmee tie-dyeing features unique patterns and shapes and originated from silk known as mudmee. Tritik and plangi are also methods of tie-dyeing woven cloth. The bandhna produces a distinctive bandhani fabric characterized by white or yellow dots on rich red and black background.

    Fabrics Used

    People who are tie-dyeing a piece of clothing or fabric usually use white cotton, like T-shirts. However, canvas bags and other light fabrics can also be used to tie-dye and they will also yield vibrant, colorful results. Traditionally, silk and wool can be used in some forms of tie-dye, such as bandhani.


    Tie-dyeing is accomplished when a fabric is folded with a certain pattern in mind. It’s then bound with either rubber bands or string before dye is applied to sections of the fabric. The string or rubber bands keep the entire piece of fabric from absorbing the dye. Instead, the fabric that has been bound will remain white and form a design, along with the dyed portions of fabric.


    There are many different types of contemporary designs that are used in tie-dyeing today. They include random circles, a “V” shape, spirals, peace signs and arbitrary designs that have nothing to do with each other, but can hold several patterns on the same piece of fabric or T-shirt. Experimenting with one or all of these designs will help you hone your tie-dyeing skills.