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The Heddels Backyard Guide to Tie-Dying

Tie-dye, the DIY-of-choice form of customizing, upgrading, or upcycling clothing for hippies everywhere, appears to have made a strong comeback in the last 5 years or so. Popular brands like Studio D’Artisan, 3sixteen, Calee, RoToTo, and more, have been incorporating more zany tie-dyes, resist dye, and traditional natural dyes into their product offerings.

In American culture, tie-dye emerged when Vietnam war protestors began adorning their clothes with psychedelic colors and patterns, in anti-war pacifist sentiment. The tradition has persisted as a bohemian symbol of peace and psychedelia. Musicians like The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin helped to elevate tie-dye as the countercultural garb of choice for the flower-child generation.

The Heddels Backyard Guide to Tie-Dying

Janis Joplin via Just Music

But tie-dyeing wasn’t anything new. In Japan, shibori dying had existed for generations, with Japanese artists utilizing natural dyes (like indigo) to dye cloth and clothing in a decorative manner. The use of natural pigments extends back even further, there’s evidence that Neolithic cultures used them in cave paintings over 10,000 years ago, and ancient Egyptian cultures used pigment in clothes to distinguish class and hierarchal standing.

Shibori---Indigo-Tie-Dye-via-Ancient-Japan Image via Smithhonig

Indigo Shibori via Smithhonig

In this simple and easy guide to tie-dying, we’re giving you an introduction to a well-known and well-loved form of art, with the process streamlined as much as possible. We’re using an easily accessible tie-dye kit that includes everything you need to get started, so you can upgrade your old/faded/stained white cotton wares, while having a bit of fun.


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