Tie-dye is considered a fashion art form just like beading and embroidery. It is a practice that concentrates the tint color in the textiles by tying or folding them to create different shapes. Its origin started out in Asia with antique techniques in dying fabrics. It is highly associated with hippies, surfers and bohemians, but today, it reappears to combine with bracelets and other accessories of ethnic inspiration. Today it’s not a trippy starburst rainbow; it has been replaced with irregular arcs and stripes often seen in cocktail dresses and even casual tops to combine with jeans, shorts or mini skirts. Tie Dye is also a popular look for a day out at the beach, whether in a skirt or a sarong, tie dye is often seen around the most famous beaches worldwide.
Nothing said “hippie” better than the psychedelic color explosion and unique designs from the old style of tie-dye; it is one of the most ancient forms of fabric design, by human manipulation. Dye can only penetrate loose fabric; it has to be as close to 100% cotton as possible since it does not stick to polyester. Just lock some sections by adding pins, tying fabric in knots or with rubber bands and this way, the dye cannot reach these parts of the fabric, therefore creating a rainbow of colors and a unique design.
Hippies included a little creativity by adding peace signs and hearts to their visual trippy designs. This technique became a hippie ritual since it was an anti-commercial “do it yourself” characterization of owned fashion. Today, designers are turning to this again, trying to own their designs and making them special so they can stay away from imitators or regular people who try to do it themselves so they can afford some shopping money.
Tie-Dye was reborn in the 80’s when a new generation started wearing the shirts their parents wore when they were youngsters at Woodstock, other than shirts these included tie-dye sheets, socks, and bags, among other pieces. Tie-dye was and is still the style of choice for people who need a little psychedelic wardrobe to remember the old days, tie-dye will never die.
Now it’s your turn to try some creativity with your wardrobe, look for your favorite shirt or dress, fabric dye, gloves, rubber bands and a bowl. Damp your clothes in water and fold it as if you were making a paper fan, continue doing this in other areas and hold them with a rubber band or a clothespin. Once you have gathered the sections to dye, place it in the bowl, put on your gloves and mix the dye in the bowl. Do the same thing in the other side, stirring your fabric so the dye penetrates well. You can leave it on for 24 hours, and then rinse with warm water and let air dry. Use a pack of cheap T-shirts for your first draft; you will get the hang of it.