question about spirals
  • Hey, I was wondering if you could give me some advice about making spirals. My spirals tend to come out very irregular with more of a blob in the middle, rather that even well defined lines. Now I've used procion dye in the past but I didn't add any urea or thickener to the dye. Whats the secret to this and how do the professionals get the spiral so perfect? Thanks, Diana
  • Part of the secret lies in how you fold the shirt, and part in how you apply the dye. Urea won't make any difference in how the dye flows, but it helps keep the dye moist long enough to fully react with the fabric. A lot of dyers like to use a thickener such as alginate, but I prefer not to.

    Are you first tying your fabric by swirling it around a center point, and then applying the dye in six even sections? The points of each section should be at the center of the swirl, like the pieces of a pie that you have cut into six pieces.

    There's a video showing the tying part embedded in my page on How do you tie-dye a spiral pattern?. If you need more detailed instructions, buy a good DVD on how to tie-dye, such as True Tie Dye's Tie Dye 101: The Basics of Making Exceptional Tie-Dye. There's nothing like a good DVD for teaching you how to master other people's techniques.

  • Yes, I have seen your instruction and watched the video. Maybe I didn't make each of my sections the same size and this accounts for the irregularity. Thanks so much for your time!
  • One thing I learned about spirals early on was to make sure I got to the VERY center of the spirals and into the deepest folds of the fabric to get the most well-defined spirals. I wind my spirals around a center point and then use 3 rubber bands to divide into 6ths, and then I'll often dye 2 sections one color and then the opposite two another color, leaving the sections between white. The bleed often goes into the white sections, leaving them to spiral on their own but not in such big white chunks that they overwhelm the colors.

    For 3 colors I'll alternate a color with a white one unless I specifically want a bleed, but again, getting into all the "nooks and crannies" is important, and getting to the center with at least one of the colors (preferably all of them if they're colors that'll blend/bleed compatibly) gives the spiral a nice crisp look and well-defined center. That and lots of practice. :) This is where having kids who don't (yet) much care if their tie-dyed spiral tees are a bit off-kilter come in handy. :) (Hubby's throwaway tees are another good source for experimentation, as are thrift shop finds.)