Tie Dyeing using Procion Dye

Want vibrant color? Use Procion Dye. It’s what the pros use (and those of us that are pro “wannabes”). Look how yummy:

First, you’ll want to prepare a mixture of soda ash and water to soak your fabric in. I like to do this before I tie my fabric so the dye bleeds just a little….but you can also soak it after your fabric is tied. Here is what the soda ash looks like:

Basically you add 1 cup of soda ash per gallon of warm water. Make sure to wear gloves though…..this stuff can dry out and redden your hands (I know from experience).

Soak your fabric until wet and then wring out:

I like to use string to tie my fabric. I like the effect I end up with as the dye bleeds into the string:

Below is what the Procion Dyes look like. Measuring them is SUPER simple because they are coded with asterisks (*). You just mix 8 oz of warm water to the following amount of dye:
Colors with no * need 2 teaspoons of dye.
Colors with one * need 4 teaspoons of dye.
Colors with two * need 8 teaspoons of dye.

In this example, I was using Hot Pink (which had no * on the title) so I just added 2 teaspoons of dye……

…..into an 8oz squirt bottle using a little funnel I made from some plastic sheeting.

Then I added the 8oz of warm water and shook it to mix:

Apply the dye!

Wrap up the dyed fabric in plastic sheeting or a plastic bag to keep the dye and fabric wet. I let mine sit overnight for 24 hours.

The next day I remove the fabric from the bag and while still tied rinse off the excess dye using cold running water. Then I untie, rinse out again and put it through the wash on cold. I try to keep the dyes similar in the first wash to preserve color too (i.e. one load of pinks, one load of blues). They won’t fade after that!

Note: Dharma recommends the final wash with HOT water and Synthrapol or something similar so that the garment will never bleed on anything.

Note: There are many other variations and dye formulas you can use to perfect your technique. I recommend the Dharma Trading catalog which is more like a manual for dyeing!

Two recent custom dress orders I did using Procion:

A birthday dress with a screen printed “3” and a dyed skirt. The customer sent me the bling to applique on the skirt.

A veggie dress made with upcycled knits and tie dye.


  1. Soren Lorensen Design says

    Hmm…maybe I *should* try dying…..I have been avoiding it (and the mess!) forever…but you make it look so so easy!!

  2. Obsession says

    LOVE LOVE your tutorials….. would this work if you did everything except the ties….or would you just let them sit in a bucket for the 24 hours…. how would you do that?

  3. Stephanie says

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE this. Can I ask, does the fabric paint work for freezer paper stencils too. Love the vegetarian tee too. Awesome!

  4. angela | the painted house says

    I WANT that Vegetarian dress…especially since my daughter's preschool accidentally fed her bacon last week. It would be a helpful reminder. :) Ha!

    How do I?????

  5. Shelly K says

    I love vibrant tie dye. Tie dye is one of my most favorite things. Anytime I see a tie dye shirt at a thrift store it goes into my cart… but I do adore the bright colors procion (SP) produces…looks like I'll be trying that soon.

  6. Happy Together says

    I'm not a huge tie dye fan, but I love how you make it work and it makes me like it :)

  7. Morgan says

    I have wanted to tie-dye for years. Someday I hope to get around to it.

    The dresses you made look great! The colors are really nice and vibrant!

  8. mhooper12000 says

    Ok Ashley! In officially going to order from Dhatma now…you've done it, lol! Last time I used a jaguard dye kit…now I have the bottles and a little knowledge…so I'm ready! Thank you again! You're the biggest inspiration ever! You need your own show….Martha's projects are too difficult and expensive…yours aren't:)

  9. Launa says

    okay, quick question… have you ever dyed anything like keens? My daughter has an adorable pair she has outgrown that are in really good shape and I'd love to dye them so my son could wear them (my hubby doesn't think pinky purple is cute on a little dude!) Any suggestions would be great!!

  10. CraftCrave says

    Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave.com in the Handcraft category today [17 Mar 12:53pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  11. sandy says

    I love how your tie dyed fabrics look. They are so gorgeous. Could you show us how to tie dye a peace sign on something? Thank you so much for the tutorials. I know they are very time consuming, so thank you so much!

  12. shoogyboogy says

    I think it's great! and now I know what wen't wrong with my tie dye. I did every thing wrong. I didn't rinse all the collor off I didn't wash onlly similiar collors together and when i washed it it was too hot. but I got a lovely purpol collor.

  13. mhooper12000 says

    Ok Ashley,
    Do you wash with the Synthrapol? Or is that just what Dharma recommends? Just wondering=) I'm not selling any of mine right now, so if it's not that big of a deal, then I just want to purchase the necessary things, like the procion dye and soda ash for now. I hope you get some sort of commission when we purchase from Dharma using your link. I'm sure your advertising has been great for them=) Thanks again for everything you do,

  14. MAGDA says

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