If you want to bring vibrant color and life to your bedroom, you can’t get more colorful than tie-dye bed sheets! Tie-dyeing something so large may seem challenging. Once you learn how to tie-dye bed sheets, though, you will find the process both fun and artistic!
The best way to tie-dye bed sheets is to use light-colored cotton bed sheets, water-soluble dye, and a large tub of warm water. Other fun ways to tie-dye sheets include using bleach or a reverse tie-dye method. For a whimsical effect, using pastel colors can also create a fun tie-dye effect.
In this article, you will learn the most effective ways to tie-dye bed sheets. You will find tips on how to safely dye bulky fabric. Finally, you will discover ways to handle sheets made of special fabric like flannel.
Can You Tie-Dye Bed Sheets?
You can tie-dye bed sheets at home in many different colors and patterns. The challenge of DIY dyeing bedsheets is working with such a large piece of fabric. That said, you can master large-scale dyeing by following a few simple steps!
When dyeing big items, you will want to spend some time setting up a usable workspace. You will need safety tools like large rubber gloves so you can avoid accidentally tie-dyeing yourself in fun rainbow colors. You will also need significantly large bins or buckets if you do not want to use your washing machine.
After you finish the dying and setting stages, you will need to find somewhere roomy to hang up the sheets to dry. The best solution is a clothesline outside in the sun. If you do not have that luxury, you can also use a shower curtain, though you will have to scrub up some dye drips from your tub afterward!
One of the cool things about tie-dye, besides its never-ending popularity, is that it can blend into so many different decorating styles. For instance, it can pop a giant splash of color into your bedroom if you want neon rainbow starbursts on your sheets. Or you can create a muted, peaceful swirl of dark blue contrasting with a creamy background.
The easiest way to tie-dye is to buy a kit containing all the dyes and supplies you need. You can find these online and at any craft store quite inexpensively. Alternatively, you can also tie-dye with any number of all-natural or DIY dyes, though this takes some knowledge and preparation.
Of course, the best thing about tie-dyeing your own bed sheets is that you get to choose exactly the colors and styles that speak to you!
How To Tie Dye Bed Sheets at Home?
You can tie-dye bed sheets at home in several different ways, each one designed to create a unique, stylish set of sheets! Most tie-dye projects follow the same basic steps, with some variations to create various interesting designs. You will need to set up your workspace, prep the sheets, fold or tie the sheets, apply the dye, allow the dye to set, rinse the sheets, wash the sheets, and then allow them to dry.
That sounds super easy, right? Well, tie-dyeing should always seem fun, but you do have to get a bit more in the weeds with each method to truly create those stunning, vividly colorful designs.
Cotton SheetsCotton sheets have a great reputation as soft and breathable bedding, but they also take dye more easily than many other types of fabric bedding. If you can, hunt down a nice set of solid-colored cotton sheets for your first tye-dye project. White or light-colored sheets will highlight the tie-dye designs better than darker-colored sheets.
Of course, you can dye other types of fabric as well. But many kinds of cloth require special types of dye. For example, wool and silk contain proteins, which means that they can only absorb acid-based dyes. Synthetic materials like polyester require something called disperse dyes as well as boiling water.
Cotton sheets, on the other hand, can easily absorb water-soluble dyes. This makes them the perfect choice for tie-dyeing!
- As a first step, you will want to cover your floor with a plastic tablecloth, several trash bags, or a drop cloth. Put on rubber gloves and wear old clothing.
- Next, wash the sheets before beginning the dyeing process. This will remove any tiny bits of fluff or dust that could mess up your design. You do not need to dry the sheets, as you will want them wet for the dying process anyway!
- Fill a very large bucket or basin with warm water. You can use your washing machine for this step if you prefer.
- Read the instructions on your dye kit, or prepare your dyes if you plan to use homemade dye instead.
- If you have a kit with squeeze bottles, mix up each color of dye in a bottle. Follow the instructions in the kit to measure the water and dye. If you plan to use only one color of the dye, you can mix it directly into the water in your bucket if you prefer.
- Now comes the fun part! To prepare it for the tie-dye pattern, you need to twist, tie, or fold your damp sheet. You can read more about how to use different patterns in the section below on “Fun tie-dye patterns to try.”
- Use rubber bands to secure your sheet in the twists or folds you selected.
- If you plan to use squirt bottles to apply the dye, set your sheet on a plastic surface and squirt color generously onto the sheet. Try to leave a little room between colors so they will not bleed together too much. Alternatively, you can dunk the whale kit and kaboodle in the bucket if you plan to use just one color!
- Next, set the sheet on a dry surface and let it rest for twenty minutes. Refer to the instructions on the dye kit to see how long you need to let the dye set. Some dyes require 24 hours with the sheet sealed up inside a large plastic Ziploc bag.
- Remove your rubber bands and gently unroll the sheet. Make sure you do this on top of your floor protection, as some dye may still leak out!
- Rinse the damp sheet under cold running water until you do not see dye bleeding away from it. Because sheets contain so much cloth, you will probably need to do this in your bathtub. Just make sure you scrub the tub immediately after so no dye sticks to it!
- You can also perform this step outside with a garden hose if you happen to have a nice clean, grassy area and some warm sunlight!
- Hang up the sheet to air-dry. If you have a big place to do this outside, that works best! If not, you can use a shower curtain rod in your bathroom.
- Finally, you will want to wash the sheets in your washing machine using cold water and gentle detergent to remove any lingering excess dye. This time you can dry them in the dryer!
If you want dark-colored sheets decorated with the bold contrasting bleach designs, you can also create tie-dye patterns using household bleach!
Once again, cotton sheets will work best for this process. But this time, you will want to select a more darkly or vividly colored sheet set. The design will show up best with a solid color, so do not choose a printed sheet set!
- Bleach has strong, dangerous fumes, so make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. You can open up a window, turn on a fan, or even work outside! You will also want to cover your workspace with a plastic tablecloth if you want to tie-dye inside.
- Run your sheet through the washer, but do not put it in the dryer.
- You can either use a giant bin or bucket for this tie-dye method or use your washing machine or bathtub if you don’t mind scrubbing dye up later on. Either way, you will need a large receptacle that can hold a whole sheet at one time.
- Fill your bucket or tub halfway with warm water and halfway with bleach. If you do not want to use so much bleach, you could use a spray bottle of 50/50 water and bleach instead, though this will take repeated filling for something as big as a sheet!
- Next, set up the sheet in knots, twists, or folds, depending on your style preference. Keep this shape in place using rubber bands.
- Submerge the secured sheet into the bucket for ten minutes, and then remove it to a dry surface. Or spray the sheet heavily with bleach using your spray bottle. If you do not see enough color bleaching, you can spray more or allow the sheet to soak for longer.
- Allow the sheet to rest for twenty minutes.
- Remove the rubber bands and untwist or unfold the sheet. Rinse it under cold running water until you do not see dye bleeding away across the sink or tub.
- Finally, wash the bleached sheet by itself in your washing machine, using cold water.
Reverse Tie-DyeReverse tie-dye creates a stained-glass-window appearance of colors contrasting dark background. You can do this by removing color in a tie-dye pattern and then adding different colored dyes back in!
Bleach tie-dye technically does work by removing color, or “reverse tie-dyeing,” as well. However, it strips away a lot of dye very quickly, making it hard to get precise or incremental designs. Also, the second part of true reverse tie-dye involves adding color back in!
Just like with the bleach method, you will get the best results if you use a solid, dark-colored set of cotton sheets for this process. You will probably find more success using a dye remover such as Rit Color Remover than using the bleach method, as well.
- Wash the sheets in warm water with soap. You do not need to dry them, but let the washer cycle finish so that sheets feel damp but not sopping wet.
- Prepare your damp sheet in the style of twists or folds that you like best. Hold this securely in place using rubber bands.
- Find a really large stainless steel pot and fill it two-thirds full with water. Place it on your stovetop and heat the water to 200℉. This means the water will simmer but not break into a boil.
- Turn the heat down to a low simmer and mix in commercial color remover in the amount indicated on the package.
- Gently lower the rubber-banded sheet into the simmering water.
- Stir the water every few minutes, but allow the sheet to remain in the water for ten to twenty minutes, depending on how dramatic you want it to look.
- Carefully transfer the sheet to your washer. Cut away the rubber bands and wash the sheet in warm water again.
- At this point, your sheet will have a cool bleached tie-dye pattern in it. If you want to create a true reverse tie-dye, keep going! If you love the bleached look, you can stop right here.
- Mix up the colors you want to use inside small squeeze bottles. If you buy a regular tie-dye kit, it will come with these. Otherwise, you can get cheap condiment bottles at the dollar store.
- Try to repeat the method you used to fold or twist the towel before the color removal process. Secure it once again using rubber bands.
- Next, squirt different colors of dye onto different sections of the sheet. Don’t worry about only dyeing the bleached areas, as the dye will not show up much on the unbleached sections anyway!
- Let the sheet rest for twenty minutes.
- To set the dye, you can apply a color fixative according to the instructions on the bottle. Or you can try placing the sheet in a large, sealed Ziploc bag and microwaving it for two minutes. Alternatively, you can spread it out flat on the grass outside on a very hot day!
- Rinse the sheet in cool water until no dye runs off.
- Place it in your washing machine and run it through a cold water cycle before placing it in the dryer.
Pastel Tie-DyeAll you have to do to create pastel-hued tie-dye sheets is to use less of the water-soluble dyes at a time! This will make a muted, pretty version of tie-dye perfect for your little girl’s princess bedroom or your bed if you like quieter colors!
With one key difference, you will want to follow all the steps explained in the earlier section on how to tie-dye cotton sheets.
As you prepare the dye in the squirt bottles, mix ¼ teaspoon of dye powder for every 4 ounces of water.
Tie-Dye Flat, Full, or Queen Bed Sheets
You may also wonder if it matters whether you have a flat or fitted, full or queen-sized bed sheet as you begin the tie-dye process.
The answer is, not really! You can use some special tricks on a fitted sheet, as you will see later in this article. But size does not matter a lot except in making sure you have big enough containers to hold your sheets.
You use the same twisting or folding techniques whether you plan to tie-dye a t-shirt, a scarf, a sock, or a bedsheet, more or less!
One question that does come up a lot is whether or not you can complete the bleaching or dyeing part of the process in your bathtub or washing machine. For easy clean-up and to avoid any potential staining, it’s safer to use a plastic bucket or basin. That said, the water-soluble dye should safely wash out of your washing machine if you find soaking in that nice readily-fillable basin much easier!
Fun Tie-Dye Patterns to TryThe real trick to good tie-dye is to get the folding, twisting, or tying just right before you apply the dye. Every different twist or fold will create a unique dye pattern.
You can find dozens of different pattern ideas to try, but these three basics will get you started!
For the traditional outward-spiraling starburst:
- Twist the whole sheet into a long snake. This will work best if you hold down the end you start at with a heavy book or pinch it between your elbow and side as you work.
- Next, roll up the snake, so it looks like a cinnamon roll. Hold one end stationery and wrap the length of the sheet around and around the outer circle until you have wrapped up all the sheet and you have a cinnamon roll or snail-like shape left.
- Finally, use giant rubber bands or a length of undyed string to hold the snail shape in place.
For more precise, rectangular designs, you can measure equal distances down the sheet and fold it accordion-style. Once you have the whole sheet folded, secure it with rubber bands.
For a small starburst, pinch a handful of the sheet and knot it in place with a rubber band. Repeat this all over the sheet to get as many tiny starbursts as you want!
How Do You Tie-Dye a Fitted Bed Sheet?In most cases, you can tie-dye a flat or fitted sheet in the same manner and get the same results. The exception is if you want to create a more geometric, folded design on the fitted sheet rather than a simple twisted spiral.
Fitted sheets have elastic around the edge that helps the sheet hug the mattress. This means the sheet will not spread out in a large, flat rectangle for easy folding. Instead, try this method:
- Fold the fitted sheet as if you wanted to store it in a drawer by folding it in half length-wise and carefully smoothing the corners out together, and then folding it in half the other way, and once again aligning the corners together, one on top of another.
- Next, make accordion folds from one edge to the center and then from the other edge to the center.
- Rubber band the folds into place before dyeing.
Can You Tie-Dye Flannel Sheets?
You can tie-dye flannel sheets depending on certain characteristics, such as the fiber type in the flannel.
Traditional flannel fabric is cotton cloth brushed with stiff metal combs that lift some of the fibers out, creating that plush nap on the material’s surface. Cotton flannel will tie-dye quite readily, as the cotton fibers will absorb water-soluble dye just as well as plain-woven cotton!
You will need to read the manufacturer’s label attached to the sheets to find out what kind of material your sheets contain, though. Synthetic fabric like polyester costs a lot less than cotton, so many flannel bed sheets these days have at least 50% polyester fibers in them!
Flannel sheets containing synthetic fibers will not tie-dye as well.
Another difficulty you may encounter is that many flannel sheets come pre-printed with a plaid design or with another design. You will want to track down solid, light-colored sheets for the best tie-dye results.
Can You Make a Tie-Dye Duvet Cover?You can make a tie-dye duvet cover so long as you can easily remove the cover from the duvet insert. In this case, you’re left with a large, flat pillowcase. You can easily tie-dye this case in the same way as you would a flat bedsheet!
Another way to make a tie-dye duvet cover is to tie-dye two flat sheets and then sew them together along three sides, turn this inside out, and then sew either a zipper or button on the open side to include the stuffing.
Where to Buy Tie-Dye Bed Sheets
You can buy tie-dye bedsheets at most stores that sell home goods, such as Walmart, Target, and Pottery Barn. Online sellers like Amazon also offer a wide variety of tie-dye bedding options.
Of course, making your own tie-dye bed sheets allows you to create just the right, artistic style for your home, but buying the sheets will certainly save you a lot of time! Plus, you won’t have to clean up the dye and/or bleach if you decide to purchase rather than create.
You can tie-dye your own bed sheets using many different folding or twisting patterns, including the popular starburst made by twisting and then rolling the entire sheet before dyeing it. You can also use unique tie-dye methods such as bleaching to remove color in fun patterns like a starburst or even squares. You can create a reverse tie-dye effect by removing the dye in a certain pattern and adding different colors in bleached spots.
The best kind of material to tie-dye is cotton. You can easily tie-dye solid-colored cotton sheets or cotton flannel sheets in any pattern you like.
Have you ever tried to tie-dye bedding? What pattern did you use, and how did you make it? Leave a comment below to let us know!