How to Tie-Dye Star Patterns

Create new color schemes for your tie-dye star pattern.
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A basic white T-shirt can change the vibe of most outfits, and this same tee can become an artist's blank canvas to tie-dye star patterns. Tie-dye generally looks like random color placement, but patterns require a bit of precision during the folding process. You need to be especially careful when creating the star's five points as well as selecting the position of the star. As you proceed with the folding pattern, the thickness of the fabric can either help or hinder the process. Generally, lightweight tees can withstand multiple folds and remain flat for pleating and/or banding.

  • White T-shirt
  • Mild liquid laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Yardstick
  • Disappearing ink fabric pen
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubber gloves
  • Smock
  • Protective eye gear
  • Mask
  • Tie-dye kit
  • Kitchen timer
  • Squirt bottles
  • Plastic rectangle-shaped bin

1 Folding to Make the Star

2 Wash your T-shirt with mild liquid laundry detergent

Wash your T-shirt with mild liquid laundry detergent. Even if your tee is sparkling white, washing the knit fabric before folding removes any finishing treatment. Set your washing machine to the rinse cycle and add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the rinse water. This process gives you vibrant tie-dye colors.

3 Place your damp tee

Place your damp tee on a worktable with the back of the T-shirt facing you. This ensures the star pattern appears in front. Smooth out the tee with your hand.

4 Fold the tee lengthwise

Fold the tee lengthwise, aligning the sleeves and bottom hem. Position the fold line to the left and the sleeves to the right.

5 Select the starting area starting on your tee

Select the starting area on your tee where you want the star pattern's top point to appear. For example, if you want the top point to start 3 inches below the neckline, fold over the top of the tee 4 inches.

6 Place a yardstick along the fold line

Place a yardstick along the fold line. Divide the tee into roughly four parts. Mark the parts with a disappearing-ink fabric pen, or, alternatively, you can eye the measurements.

7 Take the upper left corner

Take the upper left corner and fold it a third of the way down the T-shirt and set the corner at the midway point. If you are finding it challenging to locate the midway point, position your yardstick horizontally a third of the way down the tee to help you estimate the center.

8 Unfold the top of the tee

Unfold the top of the tee, forming an angled wing-like extension. Fold the bottom half of the tee over the angled wing.

9 Fold the wing under

Fold the wing under. A point forms on the left side. The folds are on the top of the shaped tee and the open flaps are facing down. Turn the shaped tee so that the point sits at your right and the folds are facing down toward you. An elongated cone-like shape appears. The bottom area has overlapping, angled extensions.

10 Angle

Angle your ruler along the point at your right side and draw a line with the disappearing-ink fabric pen.

11 Fold the top layer

Fold the top layer forward and the bottom layer back, forming an accordion-like pleat. If you use the angled line as your guide, it will look like a vertical line when the T-shirt is pleated.

12 The Dyeing Process

13 Band

Band the folded tee with rubber bands. If your tie-dye scheme has three colors in an alternating repeat pattern, band at least five areas, creating six parts. The wider the distance between the bands, the wider the color area appears in the star pattern.

14 Prepare your tie-dye colors according to the brand's directions

Prepare your tie-dye colors according to the brand's directions. Work in a well-ventilated work area. Wear rubber gloves, smock, protective eye gear and a mask. If you are working with a tie-dye kit that requires hot water or varied dyeing times, use a kitchen timer to keep track of the different intervals.

15 Fill a separate squirt bottle

Fill a separate squirt bottle for each fabric-dye color that you are using for the star pattern.

16 Place your banded tee in a plastic

Place your banded tee in a plastic, rectangle-shaped bin or in a sink. Carefully squirt the color over the point at your right side. Use the bands as start and stop points as you proceed to apply your subsequent colors. If you are working with a wide-tipped bottle, more dye is dispensed as you squirt. Thin-tipped bottles dispense narrow streams of dye.

17 Leave the fabric dye in your tee

Leave the fabric dye in your tee, according to your brand's recommended time. Once you're satisfied with the color hue, rinse the shirt in cold water until the dye runs clear. Remove the rubber bands and line dry before wearing your tie-dyed shirt.

  • Always check the fiber content label to select the corresponding fabric dye to ensure the fabric dye penetrates, wraps and bonds around the fibers.

Mercedes Valladares is the founder of M721Organics and has been an independent designer for over 15 years. Her work experience commenced during college with manufacturers based in New York and Hong Kong. Her education includes LIM College, International Fine Arts College and design certification from the Paris Fashion Institute. She produces eco-crafting videos and writes recycling articles online.