Tie-Dye Spiral Shirts

Use Our Free Tie-Dye Instructions for Learning How to Tie-Dye a Spiral Design on a T-Shirt.
Use Our Free Tie-Dye Instructions for Learning How to Tie-Dye a Spiral Design on a T-Shirt.

If you haven’t ever tie-dyed shirts before, we invite you to check out our introduction to the topic: How to tie-dye shirts. That page is important because it includes the list of materials you’ll need for dyeing your spiral design.

Free Instructions for How to Tie-Dye Spiral Shapes on T-Shirts or Fabric

Set Up Your Work Space and Get Ready to Dye.

Assuming good weather, a water source and a hose, dyeing outside is a fantastic idea. You’ll need a flat surface such as a picnic table or perhaps some cardboard boxes to work on. Otherwise, if you’re working inside, be sure to protect your work area using newspapers and / or drop cloths.


Don’t wear nice clothes for this project in case of accidents; change into clothes that you don’t mind staining or possibly ruining. Wear rubber gloves and a respirator while you prepare your dyes.


Read through the instructions that came with your dyes, and follow them carefully. Decide what colors you want to use, and mix them in squirt bottles.

Dyeing the Spiral

This is an idea of how your t-shirt might look once you've twisted it and bundled it up to be dyed. See how there's an obvious spiral shape that formed in the center of the bundle? That's how you want yours to look, too.
This is an idea of how your t-shirt might look once you’ve twisted it and bundled it up to be dyed. See how there’s an obvious spiral shape that formed in the center of the bundle? That’s how you want yours to look, too.

Spread your t-shirt out, laying it flat onto a flat surface. Decide where you want the center of the spiral to be. If you look at the example t-shirts, you can get an idea of where I like my spirals to center. I usually like to put the center of the spiral a bit higher than the center of the actual t-shirt. However, you could get interesting results by varying the location of the spiral — maybe even placing it in an unconventional and unique location. Feel free to get creative.

Use your fingers to gently grasp the t-shirt fabric in the spot you’ve decided on, and — without lifting it off of the flat surface — carefully twist the fabric in the clockwise direction. Your objective is to sweep the shirt into a twisted heap, then bundle it up neatly to be dyed — all the while maintaining the spiral you created. Secure the shirt with rubber bands; use the rubber bands to form multiple pie-shaped wedges as pictured.

Use your squirt bottles to saturate the shirt with dyes, blending the colors into each other in a way that you think would be attractive. Since purple is a combination of blue and pink or red, I used those three colors together to create my swirl. There are lots of different color combinations you can use to get similarly attractive results:

  • Red, orange and yellow
  • Yellow, green and blue
  • Green, blue and purple

If you want your shirt to be totally dyed, without any white areas, be sure to reach all the way down into the folds of the shirt, covering every bit of it with dye. To accomplish this, you will need to keep moving the rubber bands out of your way as you work. you don’t want white areas to appear in your design, you should make sure to get down deep into the folds of the shirt.


If you only want to use one color of dye, with some of the base-color of the shirt remaining, like the t-shirt pictured above right, then you do not want the dye to completely penetrate the shirt. You want to squirt the dyes onto the uppermost surface of the shirt, but you will also want to leave some areas of the shirt un-dyed.


Keep in mind that, when the shirt is wet, the colors will look much darker than they will look when the shirt dries. So, don’t be afraid to add as much dye as you need to, even if you think your shirt looks too dark.


From here on out, just follow the instructions included with your dyes for best results. Usually you’ll want to put the shirt in a safe place overnight, then rinse all the dyes out using synthropol detergent.Then wash and dry the shirt before wearing it.