What Fabrics Can You Tie-Dye? Best Fabric For Tie-Dye (Top 9)

Back in the late 60s and early 70s tie-dyeing was seen as a non-traditional, creative way to express one’s feelings and attitudes. While the technique is not new and has been practiced for thousands of years, it is still a colorful way to brighten up certain fabrics and upgrade your fashion style.

What fabrics can you tie-dye? Basically, all-natural fibers can be tie-dyed with ease. These fibers accept new colors quite well. The exception to the rule will be those fabrics that are neither natural nor synthetic as they grow weaker when wet. The unique aspect of doing this to natural fibers is that your results are unique.

To learn more about tie-dyeing and the fabrics that like this process, just continue to read our article. it gives you the information you want so you can experiment with your own creative talents and use the right fabrics to express your feelings.

The List Of Fabrics That Can Be Tie-Dyed

Not all fabrics respond well to tie-dyeing and that is because of the way they are woven or made. While we cannot provide a list of every cotton, wool, hemp, or linen variation you should get the idea from the ones we provide in the upcoming table.

Just keep in mind that you cannot dye dark colors light and lightweight materials are better than heavyweight ones for the most part.

Fabric Expected results
Cotton the go-to fabric when someone wants to do tie dyeing. It provides excellent results and different variations give you unique designs and color patterns
Denim made from cotton but needs a special mention as it responds well to the different colors you can use.
Silk it provides little intricate details that you can’t get by using other fibers
Rayon the problem with rayon is that it gets weaker when wet. While the fabric may look good, it may not be that great to wear
Bamboo good for experimenting to see what designs you can create
Hemp very much like cotton and is very accepting of new colors. how you tie it will make all the difference
Linen while it can be dyed the problem with this fabric is that there is too much wax included in its construction. That wax has to be removed first before you get great results
Wool this fabric does dye well but the trouble you will have with using this material is its ability to shrink on you. If you can overcome that, then you have a new fabric to work with
Felt works well for the most part but rinsing it lets go of much of the dye color and you are left with slight variations

What Fabrics Can You Tie-Dye?


The best fabrics you can use when you get into that tie-dye mood or want to relive your hippie days are all the natural fibers. While these fabrics have their positive and negative points and some accept dyes better than others, you really can’t go wrong using this branch of the fabric world.

Some natural fibers are better than others and that is due mainly because of their weight. Silk is seen as a good fabric to use because of its lightweight, the unique way it can be tied or twisted and the results should be exquisite.

The natural fibers you should avoid trying to tie-dye, even if they are lightweight materials, are rayon, viscose, and other in-between fabrics that combine the natural and synthetic ingredients.

Bamboo works well as it is very receptive to the right dyes and colors. You can make some interesting patterns that will have your family look innovative and fashion-forward.

You should find that you get different results when you use different variations of cotton. That large selection of materials allows you plenty of opportunities to explore your creative side and see if you can create wonderful works of art.

What Fabrics Can’t Be Tie-Dyed

This is an important list to know about as many people keep trying but have had limited success in using the following fabrics when they want to be creative with lots of different dyes.

Some companies have created dyes for synthetic materials but there are risks.

  • 1. Polyester - not very good with dyes. The dye will wash out as the material is not made to accept new colors. This material is also chemically treated to be colorfast and synthetics do not work well with most dyes.
  • 2. Faux fur - the strands used in making this material do not like getting wet and they do not hold the color very well or for very long. Also, it is a thick material that makes it hard to wrap, twist, or tie.
  • 3. Sheer polyester - the lightweight nature does not work in its favor as it does for silk. Plus, it is made from polyester so you may get a color change but it is only temporary
  • 4. Felt - getting this material wet alters the texture and while it can be made of wool, it does not hold the color very well. The new color washes out the first time it gets wet
  • 5. Synthetic blends - if you have a poly-cotton, poly hemp, or other synthetic fibers blended with natural ones, you will have a hard time tie-dyeing the material. You may get a two-tone effect which you may like. But the dye should wash out quickly from the synthetic fibers
  • 6. Nylon - while it has a reputation for accepting new colors, it does not work with a lot of different dye options,. Usually, this is a material best left to the professionals to handle when dyeing. the heat needed to successfully dye nylon may shrink and distort the fabric.

Can You Tie-Dye Synthetic Fabric?


Generally, it is best to avoid trying to tie-dye synthetic fibers. The chemicals used in their creation may react badly with the dyes and most synthetic materials are treated with different chemicals that preserve their original look.

While you may have some success with changing the color most synthetic materials release that new color once it gets wet. If you are washing them after they get dirty, do not wash them with your favorite clothing. The bleed may alter the color of those other items and ruin their look.

With that said, there are dyes made today that do work with some synthetic fibers. The problem comes in when the heat is part of the recipe. Synthetic materials do not react well to heat and can shrink, melt, or distort on you.

Sometimes it is best to not try to tie-dye these items or just let the professionals handle the job. They have the equipment and knowledge to correct the process when things start to go wrong.

Your experience with synthetics may be different but this is just the general rule of thumb when it comes to this fabric option.

What Type of Fabric is Best for Tie-Dye?

Three types of natural fabrics are the best to use when trying to tie-dye your clothing. The first, to some people, would be silk. That is because its lightweight and it is easy to tie or maneuver into the shape you want to use.

Silk also brings out some very nice and unique textures and looks that cannot be found in other materials. Next up would be cotton and it is one of the best because this material has so many variations you can work with.

Each variation may produce a little different result so your handiwork will look artistic. You may be able to get a good look using the heavier cotton fabrics like canvas and denim if you can tie them the way you want. If not, there are plenty of lightweight cotton options at your disposal.

Finally, there is hemp. While it may not have all the variations that cotton has it does accept dyes like cotton does and produces some really nice looks. As an honorable mention, bamboo may be good to work with as well. It is natural and accepts dyes well.

The key to tie-dyeing is to use scraps first to see which fabric produces the colors and designs you want. Then go from there. Experiment a little for that is what tie-dyeing is all about.

Best Fabric for Tie-Dye


The best fabric for tie-dyeing is the one that gives you the color arrangement and design you want. That means just about any natural fabric is the best to use. Do some experimenting first to see which one works best for you.

One thing is for sure, avoid synthetic materials and synthetic and natural blends. These do not hold dyes well and you need special dyes to even get a modicum of success.

Also, avoid synthetic materials blended with other synthetic materials. Your results may be less than desirable. Another thing you have to watch out for when tie-dyeing is the type of thread used to create the garment you want to alter.

Polyester and other synthetic threads are known not to accept dyes very well. Sometimes you end up with a weak-looking weird color or a two-tone color because the synthetic thread remained its original color.

Before you tie-dye, check to see what kind of thread was used. If you are brave you can continue with those items made with synthetic thread but test the material first to see if you like the results or not.

Best Fabric for Tie-Dye Tapestry

This is a little more difficult to do because you really have to look for a material that is white only and has not been treated with chemicals. That is getting hard to do as so many consumers want colorfast, permanent press, and non-shrink qualities. Those qualities require lots of chemicals ruining the fabric's chance of being dyed.

If you can find an all-white 100% cotton sheet woven for tapestries which is untreated and unsized, then you have found the best fabric to use in this situation. This material accepts dyes well and can be tie-dyed in such a manner people will think a world-famous artist did the work.

It is possible to find white fabric in other fabric styles but cotton is still the champ when it comes to dyeing it a new color.

A Word About Dyes


Finding the right fabric to tie-dye is going to be the easiest part of the task. You really can’t go wrong when you use natural fibers and if you want the new color to last a long time.

Yet, you can’t assume that all dyes will work with all fabrics. There are special dyes that are restricted to different materials like synthetics and those do not work with natural fibers. The reverse is true as well.

Before you dye and select your colors, make sure the colors and dyes you want to use work for the material you want to alter. read their labels and double-check to make sure you read the instructions and guidelines right.

Using the wrong dye should only make your fabric look bad and may ruin it as well.

Some Final Words

While tie-dyeing may be seen by the older generations as an act of rebellion, it can be a very creative way to express yourself and use your artistic talents. There are innumerable designs and ways you can tie a shirt or blouse, etc, and get the look you want.

If you are good enough, then maybe you can sell your work and make your mark on the fashion industry. Being artistic does not mean you have to be traditional all the time.

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