It's possible that your only experience with tie dye was at summer camp, twisting a cotton t-shirt in a spiral on a picnic table. So when it comes to moving into dyeing fabrics that aren't made of natural fibers you may feel a bit lost. But, never fear! Tie dye for synthetic fabrics has come a long way and we are here to walk you through it with a tutorial for DIY Tie Dye Swimsuits, of all things! Possibly the most synthetic of all the synthetics!
In our new book, DIY Guide to Tie Dye Style, we walk you through tie dyeing all types of fabrics and teach you how to know what type of dye to use based on what's on your tag, and this tutorial is just a taste of the types of projects you'll find inside! This beautiful book includes 20 modern tie dye projects from wearables to home decor, party decor and gifts as well supply lists, dye setting tips, and a variety of guides for achieving all kinds of tie dye methods (Shibori, reverse tie dye, ice dye, and more!)
The key to success when dyeing synthetic fabrics is to use a dye specifically formulated to dye synthetics. For this project we used Rit DyeMore but there are several brands that make comparable synthetic dyes. Application for synthetic dyes is also typically very different from application for normal dyes, so you'll want to be sure to read the packaging for your particular brand before you get started. Don't worry…we'll show you everything. On to the tutorial!
Supplies needed to make Tie Dye Swimsuits
White swimsuits (we used Kortni Jeane swimsuits that are 82% nylon 18% spandex)
Rit Dyemore Synthetic Fabric Dye in Super Pink and Apricot Orange
Twine or string
Large stainless steel pot used for dyeing only
How to make Tie Dye Swimsuits
Step 1. We bound our swimsuits in a hybrid of the Shibori pole wrapping technique (seen here). However, instead of wrapping the swimsuits around a pole and then binding them, we folded them accordion style in lieu of using the pole.
Step 2. Once you have folded your swimsuit accordion style, start at one end of the swimsuit and begin to wrap the folded fabric with string. If you would like more white to show through after dyeing you can bind it tightly with lots of string. If you would like more dye than white to show through, you can bind it a bit looser. Once you have wrapped the folded fabric until completely bound, tie the string into a knot to secure and trim the excess string with scissors.
Step 3. Prepare the dye bath of your first dye color according to your dye package directions. For us, this meant that we filled our pot about halfway with water and let it heat to simmering or just below boiling. Then we poured in about half a bottle of Dyemore because we wanted our results to be extra vibrant.
Step 4. Once the dye bath is ready, put on gloves and dip half of the swimsuit into the dye for a minimum of 10 minutes, being careful to not let the color reach the other half of the swimsuit and keeping it submerged until the fabric has reached your desired shade.
Step 5. Once you are happy with the shade, carefully pull out the swimsuit and squeeze out any excess dye. Then, rinse the dyed half of the swimsuit until the water runs clear. Do not unbind the swimsuit and place the suit on a dye-safe surface.
Step 6. Dispose of the first color of dye in your pot and rinse the pot completely. Then, make a new dye bath (step 3) in the second color. Then, repeat steps 4 & 5 on the second half of the swimsuit.
Step 7. Once you have rinsed the second half of your swimsuit after dyeing it in the second color of dye, use scissors to cut off the string and unbind the fabric.
Step 8. Wash the swimsuit in warm water with mild detergent and let dry.
Care tips: Because the chemicals often used in pools can be hard on fabrics, it is normal to expect fading from a tie dyed swimsuit. Additionally, Kortni Jeane recommends that you use a mild detergent or bar of soap when cleaning your suit and to wash it separately to avoid bleeding. See more here.
What's the verdict? Would you tie dye your own swimsuit? What colors would you use?
ox. Sam and Liz