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Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition

Mother of the Bride Dress Upcycle
How to Crop a Sweatshirt & Shorten the Sleeves

Crumple Tie Dye is super popular right now. Lucky for you, it’s also super easy!

After I shortened this too-long (for me!) sweatshirt, I looked at it in the mirror and thought…

Meh.

plain white sweatshirt before dye
Remember me?

There was nothing wrong with it, per se, but it’s not very fun, now is it?

boring plain white sweatshirt
No. It is not.

I decided not to settle for a bland and boring sweatshirt…and nor should you!

Here’s how to Tie Dye using the Crumple Technique!

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition Pin 1
Pin it for later!

What Fabric should I use?

I chose a 60% cotton/40% polyester sweatshirt for this project.

You’ll want to make sure whatever fabric you use is at least 60% cotton. The higher the cotton ratio, the more dramatic your end result will be.

Since I wanted a slightly faded look (very trendy right now), I was okay with my 60/40 split.

Make sure you wash your shirt before you start this project, even it’s new! New clothing can sometimes have a slight residue that will keep it from dying well.

Keep your shirt damp for this project! If you dry it after washing it, just dampen it again.

What Dye should I use?

I prefer Rit dye for tie dye projects. Tulip also makes dye specifically for tie dying (and even kits), but I prefer Rit for the following reasons:

  1. It’s cheaper (because you only use a little for this project and end up with tons left over for other projects).
  2. It has a much shorter cure time (2 minutes vs. overnight-24 hours)

Time to gather your supplies!

Here’s what you’ll need to create your own Tie Dye masterpiece!

crumple tie dye supplies
It’s about to get colorful up in here!
  • Bottled Rit Dye
    I chose Coral and Teal (my favorite colors), but you can go with however many (or few!) colors you want.
  • One Bottle of Rit Colorstay Dye Fixative
    This will help keep your colors from bleeding into each other.
  • Squeeze Bottles
    You’ll need one for each color, and another one for your dye fixative.
  • Rubber Gloves
    This project can get a little messy!
  • Rubber Bands
    They put the “tie” in “tie-dye”!

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s…

Time to crumple your shirt (or whatever else you’re dying)!

This seems pretty self-explanatory, but you just want to crumple your shirt with your hands (as opposed to say…your mouth or knees).

crumpling top of shirt
Why did I photograph this step? You’re smart. You know what crumpling looks like.

When you’re done, it’ll look something like this:

crumpled shirt on table
“Stop insulting my intelligence!” you’re undoubtedly scoffing.

Bundle your crumpled shirt with rubber bands.

Just wrap the bands around your crumpled fabric enough to to hold it together.

shirt wrapped in rubber bands for tie dye project
Gotta keep it all together!

Mix your dye.

The recipe for this is 2 tablespoons of dye + 2 cups of hot water (from the tap is fine).

mixing dye for tie dye in bottle
I like these big mouth bottles because I don’t even need a funnel for this part!

Shake your bottles well when you’re done, and they should look something like this:

mixed dye for tie dye project in bottles
We’re almost ready to go!

Put a baker’s rack in your sink or in a plastic tub.

baker's rack in sink
Or in a foil-covered sheet pan in your sink.

I have a MASSIVE kitchen sink, so that’s what I’m using.

The baker’s rack will help keep the dye from pooling on the bottom of your shirt.

Add the dye!

Time for the fun part!

Start squirting dye in whatever size splotches/locations you wish.

tie dyeing sweatshirt in sink
Wheeeee!

This is an exercise in restraint, my friends. You’ll want to make sure to leave some white spaces between the dyed parts for contrast. It’s harder than it sounds.

Once you’re done with one color, go on to the next one!

tie dying shirt second color
My dye job is pretty rando, and that’s okay!

Once you’re done with that side, flip it over and dye the other side!

tie dying opposite side of shirt
Flip it. Flip it good.

Let your shirt sit for 30 minutes.

waiting 30 minutes for tie dye to set
Just set a spell (said in thick Southern accent)!

You can use this time to eat a snack, contemplate the mysteries of the universe, or fantasize about how awesome your new shirt is going to look!

Mix your Color Fixative.

Just like with the dye, you’ll be mixing 2 tablespoons of fixative with 2 cups of hot water.

mixing dye fixative for tie dye
More photos of stuff you already understand…

Cover both sides of your shirt with the fixative.

covering shirt in dye fixative
Thou shall not bleed.

Now for the part where some of you are going to think I’m nutty.

Wrap your shirt in plastic wrap.

plastic wrap
DID I STUTTER???

I’m serious, you guys.

Do it.

Make sure to wrap it really well so it doesn’t leak.

tie dye shirt wrapped in plastic
Keeps freshness in, can’t keep my creativity out!

Line the bottom of your microwave with paper towels.

paper towels in the bottom of microwave
Salt, Fat, Acid, Tie Dye?

Put your plastic-wrapped shirt inside and microwave for two minutes.

This is to heat cure the dye! Because no one should have to wait 8+ hours to wear their sweet newly tie dyed sweatshirt.

curing tie dye in the microwave
No, it won’t melt.

Unwrap your shirt and remove the rubber bands.

Let your shirt cool for a minute or two. Then unwrap it from its plastic cocoon and remove the rubber bands.

removing rubber bands from tie dye
Thank your for your hard work, but you are no longer needed. Clean out your desk on your way out.

Rinse it out!

Rinse out the excess dye with cold water.

rinsing tie dyed shirt in sink
We’re almost done! I promise!

Wash it!

To make sure the colors in your shirt don’t bleed, wash it in cold water with an old towel in your washing machine.

tie dyed shirt and towel in washing machine
I have owned this towel for over a decade and need to get new ones. Seriously…why do I live like this?

Wear it!

After your shirt is washed and dried, it’s ready to be released out into the world!

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition after
Comfy & cute!

I LOVE how this turned out, and think it’s a BIG improvement from that plain white sweatshirt!

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition after full length
It even kind of matches my running shoes!

Here’s what it looks like from the back!

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition after back view
Le back!

As it has been frrrrrreezing everywhere as of late, including South Carolina, I styled my new tie dyed sweatshirt with my camel coat (a consignment store find!).

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition after with camel coat
Camel Coat = Instant Classic Style!

Of course, I had to brave the cold to take a few pics sans coat as well!

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition after arms crossed
I’m doing this for YOU! ARE YOU HAPPY????

I’m glad I went with the two-color approach, as I really like how the coral and teal work together.

Crumple Tie Dye after After waist up
You’ve taken enough photos. You can get out of the cold now, weirdo.

This is such an easy DIY project that doesn’t require any artistic skill but is still fun and creative (and kid-friendly)!

Have you tried this technique in the past? I’d love to know how it went! And if you haven’t, I hope you’ll give it a try soon!

Cheers!

Refashionista Crumple Tie Dye Technique Before and After

Yield: 1 Tie Dyed

Crumple Tie Dye Technique DIY

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition Pin 6

Use this easy, classic crumple tie-dye technique to create a one-of-a-kind look!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 32 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 17 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $20 (items can be reused)

Materials

  • Shirt (60% cotton or higher)
  • Bottled Rit Dye
  • Squeeze Bottles
  • Rubber Bands
  • Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Baking Rack
  • Plastic Wrap
  • 1 Old Towel

Tools

  • Your hands!

Instructions

  1. Wash your shirt (or whatever it is that you're dying) and leave damp.plain white sweatshirt
  2. Crumple your shirt. crumpled shirt on table
  3. Bundle your crumpled shirt with rubber bands. Just wrap the bands around your crumpled fabric enough to hold it together.shirt wrapped in rubber bands
  4. Mix your dye. The recipe for this is 2 tablespoons of dye + 2 cups of hot water (from the tap is fine).mixing dye for tie dye in bottle
  5. Put a baker’s rack in your sink or in a plastic tub. The baker’s rack will help keep the dye from pooling on the bottom of your shirt.baker's rack in sink
  6. Add the dye! Start squirting dye in whatever size splotches/locations you wish.tie dyeing sweatshirt in sink
  7. Once you’re done with that side, flip it over and dye the other side! tie dying shirt second color
  8. Let your shirt rest for 30 minutes. waiting 30 minutes for tie dye to set
  9. Mix your Color Fixative. Just like with the dye, you’ll be mixing 2 tablespoons of fixative with 2 cups of hot water. mixing dye fixative for tie dye
  10. Cover both sides of your shirt with the fixative mixture. covering shirt in dye fixative
  11. Wrap your shirt in plastic wrap. Make sure to wrap it really well so it doesn’t leak. tie dye shirt wrapped in plastic
  12. Line the bottom of your microwave with paper towels. paper towels in the bottom of microwave
  13. Put your plastic-wrapped shirt inside and microwave for two minutes. This is to heat cure the dye. curing tie dye in the microwave
  14. Unwrap your shirt and remove the rubber bands. removing rubber bands from tie dye
  15. Rinse out the excess dye with cold water in the sink. rinsing tie dyed shirt in sink
  16. Wash your shirt in cold water with an old towel in your washing machine. (to make sure the colors don't bleed)Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition after

Notes

This is an exercise in restraint, my friends. You’ll want to make sure to leave some white spaces between the dyed parts for contrast. 

Mother of the Bride Dress Upcycle
How to Crop a Sweatshirt & Shorten the Sleeves

42 Comments

  • Pascale M

    Thanks for yours posts ! (My english is very simple but i try to read in vo…) It rains too much in my country (France ) and i wait the sun !!!

  • Sue

    Thanks! I don’t even HAVE a microwave so that’s really not an option. But plastic-wrapped and set on the dashboard of the car on a sunny day might work.

    What about a low oven (with no plastic, obviously)?

  • Jennifer Andersen

    So I totally want to tie dye something like right now! Awesome outcome on the shirt! I’m going to try this one.
    Stay well.

  • JJ

    My hubby and I are almost at the point where we might have less “good” towels and more “play towels”. We live right by the beach and one of our dogs loves going swimming. We go through a lot of “play towels”.

  • JJ

    What a great idea! My dad worked for IBM when we were little. When IBM had their picnics mom would make all 5 of us girls matching outfits. Different styles but made with the same fabric,. That way, if anyone got lost, she could tell the “person to talk to if you have a lost child” what we looked like and what we were wearing, with an example of the outfit on one of the girls.

  • nerdywordybirdy

    This looks so great! Took me back to my 14th birthday party when me and my friends tie-dyed t-shirts. I still wear mine to bed sometimes, lol. You could take this a step further too and tie-dye some joggers and/or a sports bra to have a matched set a la influencer! Matched sets kind of make me think of pajamas but who am I to question the trends?? Ha.

  • Nina Wum

    Tie-dyed look is back big time! I usually go for the Broke option, aka. tie-dying using just bleach. (It’s cheap and requires no fixative.) I choose a solid colour garment with a high percentage of durable cotton in it, twist the fabric into lil knots, secure those with rubber bands, and then crumple it all together in a ball. Half a bottle of bleach added to a plastic basin filled with warm water does the job. All you gotta do is submerge your fabric bundle, let it float for an hour or two until the colour lifts and then hang it out to dry. No microwaving needed!

  • Nancy Lathan

    Love your tie dye project! Trying to get the nerve to dye something myself….
    Love to get your emails. Take care πŸ™‚

  • Ann Brookens

    Everyone needs an old towel or two for dyeing things or drying dogs or big clean-up projects! This turned out really cute! My own projects always seem too pale…but I’ve never tried microwaving them!

  • Pascale M.

    Bonjour, Vous Γͺtes toujours aussi radieuse et cela fait vraiment plaisir Γ  voir Jillian. Je n’ai toujours pas de micro-ondes je dois donc attendre 8 heures de “prise de la teinture” ? Merci pour tous vos conseils.Portez-vous bien !

    • Refashionista

      Hello there! I don’t speak French, but I used Google Translate! πŸ™‚ You really do want to use heat to get the dye to cure properly. But if you don’t have a microwave, you can just leave it in the sun for an hour (not super helpful when it’s cold, I know!).

  • Kay

    Fun City! Love how your two colors played together. Couldn’t be cuter, and the refash sweatshirt, too. Always great to see a post from you in my mailbox!

  • Sue

    Is letting it sit for eight hours a viable non-microwave option? And in that case do we still wrap it in plastic while it waits? Thanks?

    • Refashionista

      You really do want to have heat to cure the dye. If you don’t want to microwave it, you could leave it in the sun for an hour (wrapped in plastic). The plastic plays the role of keeping the heat in (sort of like a greenhouse).

      Now, if you aren’t very particular about color bleed or intensity, you could just leave it overnight, but you won’t get the same result pictured here.

      You could also try one of the Tulip brand tie dye kits that don’t need heat to cure the dye.

    • Refashionista

      I was worried you guys would think I had become incredibly boring. πŸ˜‰

      Nope, just wanted to divide this refashion into two posts, since the dye part has a lot of instructions!

  • Jayne

    Nice. Always makes me smile when I have an email with a new post. As for the step-by-step crumpling instructions, believe it or not I would have been second guessing myself. Is this crumpled, is it crumpled enough.? Lastly you look well. Stay safe.

  • Ingrid

    Always so happy to see a new post from you. Brings some fun to my day. That turned out really cute. And… I like the photos for all the steps that I should already understand. Lets me know that what I was thinking is correct.

  • andreawfhadventures

    Love it! Would it also work on some comfy old (well loved) sweaters? They need some fun…kind of boring and dingy…. would love to give them new life!

  • Nina from Southern California

    Love this one and especially how the front is so centered to frame your face, awesome !!! Love the back around the neck area, too. Did you target those areas on purpose (’cause I think we should now) to get that perfect effect ?

  • Murielle

    Ah, this takes me back about fifty years! Yes, we tie-dyed all sorts because it was fun and pretty and so trendy. I didn’t have anything turn out like your fabulous top, though. Brava! Brava! Brava!

  • Karen

    SO cute! I wish I had the patience to tie dye. Plus, the confidence it would come out well, lol. Also, I really dig your camel coat!

  • Marie

    It looks great! I tried this with my grandkids last summer. So much fun! Then we threw a tie-died shirt family BBQ. We looked fabulous. Lol.

  • KK

    I used to tie dye old light colored shirts with preschoolers before end of year out door field trips. The kids used lots of rubber bands to twist the fabric, then squirted happily. The matching purple tie dye shirts helped keep kids visible with large groups of school children in the zoo and parks.

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