If you’re looking for a tie-dye technique that gives you control and results in colorful, eye-catching patterns, you might want to give spray bottle tie-dyeing a try!
You can mix regular tie-dye in a spray bottle and use that to create your designs, or you can try fabric spray paint, which is a permanent paint that dries fast and soft to the touch.
This article details the step-by-step process for spray bottle tie-dyeing and provides tips and techniques for turning plain fabric into amazing tie-dye artwork!
You won’t need every item listed here, but I thought I’d include all supplies needed for a variety of projects (see Tips and Designs below).
- Spray bottles
- Soda ash
- Container for mixing soda ash solution
- Paper towels
- Laundry detergent
- Rubber bands
- Fabric spray paint
- Piece of cardboard
- Freezer paper
- Masking tape
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable apron
- Disposable tablecloth, tarp, or drop cloth
- Random objects
- Plastic wrap
Before you begin, be sure to cover your work area with a protective cloth and put on gloves and an apron to keep dye and bleach off your skin and clothing.
1. Choose Your Fabric
Tie-dye is a type of fiber-reactive dye, meaning that it reacts to the fibers in fabrics such as cotton or hemp and actually becomes a part of the fabric, bonding permanently to it.
The best kinds of fabrics to tie-dye are those that are made of cellulose fibers, such as cotton, hemp, or linen.
Choosing a white or light-colored fabric will make your tie-dye colors stand out more than they would on a darker material.
You can also use bleach to create lighter areas that will make your colors show up better on darker fabric.
2. Soak Fabric in Soda Ash Solution
Soda ash is a chemical that helps the dye better adhere to the fabric. Mix one cup of soda ash per gallon of water and let your fabric soak in the solution for at least half an hour.
Then remove the fabric, and wring it out so that it is still damp but not soaking wet.
If you are using fabric spray paint, you can skip this step. You will want to spray fabric spray paint onto dry fabric.
3. Mix Your Dyes
If you’re using a regular tie-dye kit (Tulip kits are the best I’ve used by far, and with many kits, like this one, you can skip the soda ash step entirely!), simply pour your tie-dye into the spray bottle, add water, and shake it up.
You can also make your own fabric paint by mixing one part acrylic paint with one part fabric medium (I highly recommend Angelus 2-Soft – you won’t find better quality anywhere) and then adding water and shaking it up until it is a thin, milk-like consistency.
You can skip this step if using fabric spray paint and just get right to folding!
4. Fold Your Fabric
Fold your desired pattern into the fabric. You can use rubber bands (or similar items) to bind the folds in place, or use an iron to keep the folds creased.
5. Spray the Fabric
Spray the fabric with the tie-dye. You can create new colors by mixing the dyes on the fabric.
6. Let the Dye Soak In
If you are using fabric spray paint, let the colors sit for 30 minutes. If you are using tie-dye or homemade spray, give the colors more time to soak in.
Put the fabric in a sealable plastic bag and let it sit for 8-24 hours. The longer it sits, the brighter the colors will be.
7. Rinse the Fabric
Take the fabric out of the plastic bag and run it under cold water. Rinse it until the water runs clear.
You can skip this step if you are using fabric spray paint and move right on to laundering!
8. Wash the Fabric
Wash the garment in hot water with regular detergent, then dry on a high heat setting. If using fabric spray paint, follow the laundering instructions on the label.
Fun Ideas & Designs for Spray Paint Tie-Dye
By following a few simple tips, such as blending like colors and applying fabric spray paint to dry fabric, you can ensure that you set yourself up to create the best spray paint tie-dye possible.
Blend Colors Intentionally
Use colors that mix well together, and subtly blend them to make a smooth transition from one color to the next.
To blend, spray one solid color, and use a lighter touch and a little more distance to apply a thinner layer near its border.
Then spray a little bit of the next color over the lighter area of the first color.
You can go back and forth a few times to mix the two colors, then continue applying the second color in a smooth, even motion.
Anytime you’re spraying a substance, it’s a good idea to work outside or in a well-ventilated area to protect your lungs and keep your work area clean.
Use smooth, even strokes to create continuous color.
When using fabric spray paint, remember to shake the can regularly between spraying. This keeps the colors adequately mixed and allows for proper consistency.
Use Dry Fabric With Fabric Spray Paint
Using fabric spray paint on dry fabric can help keep the colors from running and leave you with crisp designs and sharply defined edges.
Wait Between Layers
When using fabric spray paint, you will want to wait at least 5 minutes before applying each additional layer of color.
If you are using homemade fabric spray paint, be sure to wait until each layer is completely dry.
You will need red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple colors for this project.
If you’re tie-dyeing a t-shirt, put a piece of cardboard between the fabric layers to keep the colors from soaking through from the front to the back.
Fold your fabric diagonally like a paper fan. Use a hot iron to keep the pleats in place while you apply the colors in rainbow order (ROYGBIV).
Once dry, flip the fabric over, and use the same technique on the back.
Draw a design in pencil on freezer paper. Then use scissors or a utility knife to cut your stencil out.
You can use scrap pieces of freezer paper to cover any part of your fabric that you don’t want to get color on.
Put the freezer paper shiny side down on the fabric and press it down with a hot iron for 10 seconds to get it to stick.
Wait for the paint to mostly dry, then remove the freezer paper. If you are using fabric spray paint, launder as usual.
Otherwise, cover the design with plastic wrap for at least 8 hours, then rinse the fabric until the water runs clear, and wash and dry.
Use masking tape to create a design on your fabric. Any area that is taped will stay color free. Apply your spray tie-dye, then remove the tape once the color is dry.
Use scissors to cut slits in the fabric and stretch them with your fingers to give them a ragged look.
Crumple the fabric up, and use a hot iron to help keep the creases in place.
Spray the colors in any kind of pattern you like as you turn the fabric in your hands, making sure to get color on all sides.
You can use fern leaves, bike gears, flowers, palm fronds, random nuts and bolts, or any interestingly shaped objects that you can find lying around your house that you don’t mind getting color on.
Arrange the objects on your fabric, then spray away! Once the color has dried, remove the objects, and wash the fabric.
Use the same blending technique as with the rainbow stripes pattern to create an ombré effect. For best results, work from light to dark colors.
Dip a paintbrush into your color, then tap it against the side of your finger to create splatters.
To create a spiral design, pinch the center of the fabric and hold it while twisting the fabric around the middle.
Use a hot iron to keep the pleats in place as you apply your colors. Don’t forget to do the backside of the fabric too!
Spray a 50/50 solution of bleach and water on dark fabric to create the spiral design.
Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes or until it starts to change color, then rinse the fabric in cold water, and wash and dry it.
Apply a rainbow of colors to the bleached areas of the fabric, then launder as usual.
Then, carefully spray your bleach and water mixture onto the fabric to create the effect of stars.
Wait at least 5 minutes, then rinse with cold water, wash and dry, and voilà! You have your very own galaxy artwork!
Spray bottle tie-dyeing is a fun process that can yield some interesting and unique designs that people will definitely be asking about!
Try using an iron to hold creases in place, as that can create more defined edges in your final results, and don’t be afraid to experiment!