Movie stars wear them, big-name brands sell them, but do you own a tie-dye hoodie yet? If you don’t want to buy a pricey but colorful hoodie, you can make one at home using just a few simple supplies. Plus, you can learn how to tie-dye a hoodie in any color or design you like best!
Popular methods for tie-dying a hoodie include using a crumpled or folded and tied method to create designs such as a starburst, stripes, or bullseye. Other popular hoodie tie-dye methods include using ice and dye to create unique patterns on the garment. Bleaching the old dye out of a hoodie can also create fashionable patterns.
In this article, you will learn six ways to tie-dye a hoodie. You will find out what kind of dye to use and how to handle a zip hoodie. You will also discover how to make fun patterns like a starburst or stripes.
- Can You Tie-Dye a Hoodie?
- What Dye Should You Use?
- How To Tie Dye Hoodie: 6 Methods
- Popular DIY Hoodie Tie Dye Patterns and Designs
- How Much Dye Should You Use for a Hoodie?
- Popular Hoodie Tie-Dye Colors
- Reverse Tie Dye Sweatshirt
Can You Tie-Dye a Hoodie?
You can tie-dye a hoodie using several techniques to create customized, brightly colored designs! That said, you do need to consider a few factors before you begin.
First, what kind of fabric is your hoodie made out of? Most sweatshirts feature a kind of soft knitted material with brushed fleece on the inside. This kind of fabric, called sweatshirt fleece, can contain either cotton or polyester material, or even a combination of both materials.
Cotton sweatshirt fleece will tie-dye quite easily. Cotton absorbs moisture well, meaning that you can use dyes dissolved in water to color this type of fabric.
Polyester, on the other hand, does not absorb moisture and does not hold color easily at all. You can tie-dye polyester, but the process requires a lot of additional time and work and a giant pot on your stove to heat boiling water!
Because of this, it’s much easier to tie-dye cotton hoodies.
Next up, what about the color of your hoodie? This one is common sense, but obviously, the color will pop much better on white fabric! Also, if you try to mix colors by adding, for example, yellow dye on top of a blue sweatshirt, the sweatshirt may end up looking green as the two shades combine together.
The exception to this rule is if you want to try bleach tie-dye. In which case, you will want to start with a black or dark-colored sweatshirt.
Finally, you should also prepare a workspace before you embark on this project. The thing about tie-dyeing a hoodie is that these garments are pretty big! They have a lot more bulk than a t-shirt and weigh a lot when wet. So you will want a nice clean space all covered in protective plastic or an outdoor work area if you don’t care about dripping dye onto the grass in your yard!
Plus, you should wear old clothing and rubber gloves to avoid accidents. The color will look fantastic on your hoodie, but you don’t want splotches of tie-dye colors getting on your good clothes as you work!
What Dye Should You Use?A type of dyes called fiber-reactive dyes will give you the best, most permanent results for tie-dyeing a hoodie. However, many cheaper kits like the Tulip brand kits also work well and offer a much simpler process.
You can use most types of water-soluble dyes on a cotton sweatshirt. Some dyes will last longer than others, though.
Fiber-reactive dyes work well because they can bond with the fabric fibers on a molecular level. They come from petrochemicals but do not contain heavy metals or anything dangerous.
You can buy fiber reactive dyes from most big-name brands like Dharma, RIT, Jacquard, and Tulip.
If you plan to tie-dye with children, you may want to consider using water-based, entirely non-toxic products instead. One of the big advantages of using this kind of dye with kids is that you can more easily clean it off small hands!
Plus, water-soluble dyes, like most RIT products, only need a few minutes to soak in instead of resting overnight.
You often find this kind of dye in ready-made kits, along with easy instructions for application! Water-based dyes will look great at first, but they often fade quickly after a few washes.
How To Tie Dye Hoodie: 6 Methods
You can tie-dye a hoodie in many different ways, such as using ice, a baking rack, and a folded or tied pattern. You can also learn special tips for applying colorful designs to a zipper hoodie or a hoodie with a logo.
1. One Color
The simplest way to tie-dye your hoodie is to use just one color. This can create lovely cloudy, wavy, or even striped or bullseye designs on a white sweatshirt! You may want to try this method first, as it will give you experience with the basic steps of the dyeing process in the simplest way possible.
- Start by setting up a workspace with plastic sheeting or tablecloths spread out to protect your area. You can work on a table, outside, or even on the floor or kitchen sink!
- It’s always a good idea to run your sweatshirt through a cold water cycle in the washing machine before you begin. This should get rid of any dust or dirt on the surface of the fabric that might otherwise mess up your colorful pattern. Don’t bother putting the damp hoodie in the dryer, though!
- For the best possible results, you will start by creating a dye-fixative bath. You will need a bucket large enough to fit your sweatshirt inside or a kitchen sink with a drain plug. Fill up the bucket two-thirds full of water.
- Next, measure in ¾ of soda ash for every gallon of water you put in the bucket. Soda ash helps fix the fiber reactive dye to the fabric to remain bright and vivid for a long time.
- Next, lower your sweatshirt into the fixative solution and let it soak for ten minutes.
- Wear rubber gloves to remove the sweatshirt, and carefully wring out as much water over the bucket as possible.
- Carefully place the damp hoodie on your plastic sheeting.
- Next, rinse the bucket or kitchen sink and fill it up again with 3 gallons of hot water. The water should feel comfortable to the touch–you do not need boiling water!
- You should add dye according to the directions on the package, but for fiber-reactive dyes, you will usually measure in 2 to 4 teaspoons of powder per three gallons of water. You will need to stir the powder into the hot water.
- To create your own unique pattern, you will want to use rubber bands or twine to scrunch, fold, or twist the hoodie. You can find tips on how to make special patterns later on in this article!
- Once you have prepped this design, lower the sweatshirt into the dye bath and let it soak for half an hour to an hour, depending on how dark you want it to look.
- Carefully remove the hoodie from the bath, allowing it to drip over the bucket for a while to avoid splattering dye around your workspace.
- Do not untie or unwrap the rubber bands or twine from the sweatshirt. You will want to let it wrapped inside a plastic bag for an hour or even overnight to let the dye soak in.
- After this resting period, remove the bindings and rinse out the sweatshirt under cool running water until you no longer see color washing away with the water.
- Put the sweatshirt by itself in your washing machine and run it through a cold-water cycle using a gentle detergent. You may need to wash it a couple of times until you do not see dye in the washing machine.
- Finally, put the clean hoodie in the dryer!
2. Crumpled Pattern
You can create a simple crumpled or scrunched pattern using one color or multiple colors. This process works best with a baking rack (the kind you use to cool cookies on!) and a clean kitchen sink.
- Run your hoodie through the washer using a gentle detergent and cold water. This will strip out any fabric finishers if you just bought it or any old fabric softener if you have washed it in the past. Plus, it should get rid of any potential dirt or dust that will mess up your design!
- To make your crumple design, you just crumple the hoodie, one handful at a time! Grab a big handful of the fabric and scrunch it up inside your fist. Leave it in the scrunched shape and repeat this all over the hoodie. It will end up in a roughly roundish shape.
- Use three or four giant rubber bands across the whole round shape to hold those crumples in place. If you want to get precise about it, think of it as putting a rubber band at 12 and 6 o’clock, then at 3 and 9 o’clock, and crisscrossing the bundle to hold it together.
- If you have a stainless steel kitchen sink, place the baking rack in the sink. If you do not, you can also use a large tote or a big washtub. You may not want to try this in a bathtub or porcelain sink as the dye could stain it.
- Place your rubberbanded sweatshirt on the rack. This will allow the extra dye to drain away below the shirt instead of pooling beneath the garment and bleeding from one area to another.
- Read the instructions on the dye package to mix up the powder and water in the correct proportions. You can do this by measuring the powder and dye into a condiment squirt bottle or into disposable plastic cups, then stirring or shaking well.
- Now comes the fun part! You can use just one color, poured generously over the whole hoodie, or pour or squirt different colors onto different areas of the sweatshirt. Make sure you flip over your rubberband bundle and pour dye onto the backside for adequate color saturation.
- Wrap the sweatshirt in a plastic bag, seal it up, and set it aside to rest for 8 to 24 hours.
- Take the hoodie out of the plastic bag in your sink or tub. Without removing the rubber bands, rinse it under cool running water. Keep going until you do not see the color coming off it anymore.
- Very carefully slide the rubber bands free and take a moment to admire the awesome design on your sweatshirt!
- Once again, rinse the hoodie until you don’t see color streaming off it.
- Wash the sweatshirt in a cold water cycle with gentle detergent.
- Put it in your dryer for a full cycle, and your tie-dye hoodie is complete!
3. With Ice
The ice tie-dye method is one of the easiest ways to tie-dye a hoodie out there, as you do not need any special twisting, crumpling, or folding for this process! Instead, you apply dye powder over a layer of ice cubes. The cubes melt at different rates, creating unique swirls and varying shades of color on the garment!
- As always, start by running the white hoodie through the wash. You do not need to put it in the dryer as the process works better with a damp garment.
- Next, arrange a large cooling rack in a large bin. You probably do not want to use a sink or bathtub for this because you need to leave the dye set up in place for quite a while!
- Place the damp hoodie on the rack, scrunched up enough so that all parts of it fit onto the metal rack.
- Now add a layer of ice cubes over the whole surface of the scrunched sweatshirt.
- Next, you will add the dye powder. You can use any kind, like RIT or Tulip, but make sure you get powder instead fo liquid dye. Sprinkle this over the shirt.
- You will want to sprinkle more powder in some areas than others, as this will add to the variation in color in the finished pattern.
- If you want, you can use multiple colors. Just sprinkle different colors in separate sections of the hoodie.
- Allow the ice dye to sit for 24 hours. The ice will melt pretty early, but you do not want to disturb the pattern as the color sets.
- Use gloves to get the sweatshirt to a sink, and rinse it in cold water until you do not see the color bleeding away.
- Finally, run it through a cold water cycle in the washing machine by itself, and then put it in the dryer.
4. With Bleach
One of the most interesting ways to tie-dye a hoodie is to use bleach on a black or dark-colored sweatshirt. This creates a ghostly, interesting reverse tie-dye design. You can also finish the bleach tie-dye process and then add various colors into the bleached patches if you want an even more colorful contrast, as you will see later in this article.
The other thing to keep in mind with this technique is that you should take some precautions when working with bleach. Open up a window for ventilation, wear gloves, and wear old clothes if some of the bleach splashes you!
- Wash your black or dark-colored hoodie in cold water using nothing but gentle detergent.
- Prepare the damp sweatshirt using any of the folding or tying methods you can find later in this article. You can also use the crumple method if you want the absolute easiest technique! Make sure you secure any pattern you choose with rubber bands or twine.
- Next, set up your bleach solution. Measure equal amounts of bleach and water into a large basin that easily fits your hoodie.
- Submerge the hoodie into this solution. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Quickly cut through the rubber bands and rinse the bleach out under cool running water. You may see some dye rinse away as well.
- Finally, wash the bleached sweatshirt in your washing machine on a cold water cycle by itself in case of any additional color bleeding. Then run it through the dryer.
5. On Zip-Up Hoodie
The best way to tie-dye a zip-up hoodie is to fasten the zipper shut before you begin and then treat the garment like a regular hoodie. You can still fold, twist, or crumple the sweatshirt into any pattern you like!
In some cases, zippers can have a bad reaction to dyes. Zippers could shrink, discolor, or even lose teeth in rare cases. On top of this, brass and copper zippers could corrode and spread discoloration onto the hoodie.
To help prevent this, make sure you rinse the zipper well immediately after finishing the dyeing process. Also, try to use sweatshirts that have plastic zippers rather than metal zippers, if you can.
6. On Hoodie with Logo
You can tie-dye a hoodie with a vinyl logo or design on it, but some of the colors will stain the vinyl. For instance, if you have a white vinyl logo on the shirt and use pink dye, the logo will turn slightly pink.
If you have a design on the shirt made from colorful vinyl, such as yellow or blue vinyl, you will need to keep in mind that color mixing may occur when you add dye.
You can often dye a hoodie with a white vinyl logo and then use a rag soaked in isopropyl rubbing alcohol to scrub the color off the vinyl.
If you have an embroidered logo, you will just have to accept that the embroidery will turn the same color as the hoodie!
Popular DIY Hoodie Tie Dye Patterns and Designs
You can make dozens of unique tie-dye patterns on your hoodie, including the popular pleated, starbursts, strips, and bullseye designs! The basic concept of any tie-dye pattern is that folds, pleats, twists, or scrunches in the garment allow some parts of the fabric to absorb more dye than other parts.
1. Box Folds
One of the more intricate and extremely popular tie-dye styles in recent years comes from the Japanese style of dyeing called Shibori dyeing.
- Smooth out your clean, damp sweatshirt on a table covered with plastic cloth.
- Make large 3” accordion folds horizontally across the hoodie, starting with the left sleeve and working your way across to the right sleeve. You should end up with a roughly 3” wide rectangle of the hoodie, all folded up in a long strip!
- Next, fold the folded sweatshirt by folding down that strip vertically, again making roughly 3” folds.
- You will have a large square when you finish.
- Cut out two squares of cardboard about the same size as the hoodie square. Put one on top and one on the bottom of the sweatshirt square.
- Use large rubber bands to hold the cardboard and sweatshirt sandwich together.
- Now the hoodie is ready for dyeing!
One of the prettiest and most popular types of tie-dye designs you see a lot is a scattering of starbursts across the front of a hoodie. This simple method hardly takes any time to prep at all!
- Spread out your damp, clean hoodie on a flat surface.
- Decide where you want to place the scattering of starbursts. You can make a big burst or a bunch of small stars, depending on your personal style! You may find it helpful to temporarily insert safety pins to make the placement of each star before you go on to the next step.
- To form the first star, pinch a bit of hoodie fabric and twist it into a small cone shape. For the average-sized star, this will only take an inch or two of hoodie fabric.
- Secure the small cone by adding a rubber band at its base.
- For a whole starburst with multiple stars, repeat this process until you have pinched and secured as many stars as possible.
- Dye the hoodie using any of the methods described earlier in this article!
Tie-dye stripes have a really easy folding pattern. You can use this horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally across the hoodie!
- Smooth out the damp sweatshirt on a flat surface. Starting at the left sleeve, make large pleats or accordion folds. Keep moving from left to right until the whole hoodie looks like a folded-up fan.
- Wrap rubber bands around the length of the folded hoodie, spacing them one to two inches apart (depending on how wide you want the stripes to look!).
- Using two or more colors of dye, alternate colors between the rubber bands to make vivid stripes!
A bullseye tie-dye pattern has a small center point and then rings expanding out from that point, just like the Target bullseye or an archery target!
- Start by choosing your center point. Bunch about three inches of sweatshirt fabric in your hand at this point, and twist a small rubber band around it to secure it.
- Hold this point up in the air with one hand, and use the other hand to form the rest of the hoodie into a cone shape.
- Wrap another rubber band about an inch down the cone from your first rubber band.
- Then move another inch down, adding rubber bands one inch at a time all the way down the cone-shaped hoodie.
- For a one-color bullseye, use the “one color” method described earlier in this article.
- If you want alternating color stripes in your bullseye, apply different colors between the rubber bands. To do this, arrange your rubber-banded hoodie on a baking rack and squirt dye onto the sweatshirt between the rubber bands.
How Much Dye Should You Use for a Hoodie?
The best way to determine how much dye you should use for a hoodie is to read the measuring instructions on the dye packet. Different brands will use different proportions. Also, powdered and liquid dyes will work a bit differently.
In general, a garment as large as a hoodie will require quite a bit of dye. You will likely need at least half of the powder in an RIT dye packet, for example!
Remember that better color saturation, caused by using more dye, will create bolder colors that last better through the rinsing stage.
Popular Hoodie Tie-Dye Colors
Bold neon hues remain the most popular hoodie tie-dye colors, but lots of other options like single-colored or bleached shades work well!
A pastel color scheme can also create a whimsical, much more gentle type of tie-dye hoodie. Actually, you can often create pastel shades just by using less dye than you would for a bolder hue!
Reverse Tie Dye Sweatshirt
Making a reverse tie-dye sweatshirt involves bleaching a pattern onto a black or dark-colored sweatshirt and then applying dye on top of the bleached spaces. This method makes a gorgeous, stained-glass-like design!
You can use any folding or twisting pattern, but these instructions show you how to use reverse tie-dying with a simple crumple design.
- Wash your black or dark-colored hoodie in a cold water cycle with laundry detergent. Take it out of the washer and begin this project with it still damp.
- Put the damp sweatshirt on a flat surface and squeeze handfuls of the hoodie in your hands, working from top to bottom. You should have a roughly oval-shaped scrunched blob when you finish.
- Use big rubber bands stretched diagonally across the blob to hold all the scrunching in place.
- Mix up a bleach bath using equal amounts of bleach and water.
- Place the bundled hoodie into this, and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. As soon as you see color leaving the fabric, take the hoodie out of the bleach!
- Remove the rubber bands and rinse away the bleach using lots of cold running water.
- Before you try dyeing the hoodie, put it through the washing machine on a cold water cycle, just to make sure all the bleach comes out.
- To apply color to your reverse tie-dye sweatshirt, you can use the dye bath method described in the “one color” method earlier in this article or the “crumple method” technique that allows you to pour multiple colors onto the hoodie after arranging it on a baking rack.
- After applying the dye, wrap the sweatshirt inside a plastic trash bag and let it sit overnight.
- Finally, rinse the dye in cold water, and wash and dry the hoodie!
You can tie-dye a hoodie using a simple one-color dye bath, using a layer of ice cubes and dye powder, or even using bleach! Tie-dye works best on white cotton hoodies without zippers, but you can dye a zip hoodie so long as you find one with a plastic zipper. You can also use the bleach method on black or dark-colored hoodies.
To create interesting tie-dye designs, you can use unique twisting, folding, or scrunching techniques–these allow you to make designs like a bullseye or stripes. You can also make a simple crumple design or get an interesting cloudy design by using the ice method.
Have you ever tried to tie-dye a hoodie? What kind of design did you make? Leave a comment below to let us know!