Daily Archives: March 4, 2004

how to dye a cross pattern

Name: Shirley
Message: I have been learning to tye-dye and can do most of the basic folds and some other more advanced folds. I have been wanting to learn how to fold the “Cross” and every time I come across someone that has a booth somewhere and ask if can share the fold they don’t want to for some reason. I would like the learn so that I can make shirts for our church youth group for a fundraiser so that they can go on a mission trip this summer. Could you please help me out? Thanks.

There are many different ways to dye a cross shape. Trial and error is the best way to learn how to tie-dye. Here are some ideas:

Little circles (Bandhani)
The oldest form of tie dye still practiced is the art of Bandhani, in India, claimed by some to be 5000 years old. Bandhani involves tying a lot of little circles so that they add up to your design. Draw the cross shape on the shirt with a pencil, then, using either thread, or the tiny rubber bands that are used on orthodontic braces, grab a lot of little points along the lines, one at a time, pull each one up about an inch or two, and wrap each one with thread (which you have to knot) or a rubber band. Each line is just a string of circles. The effect can be very nice. Great Indian practitioners would use thousands of tiny circles to outline a more complex cross design, but there’s nothing wrong with a simple string of circles for each line! This design can be vat dyed one color as an alternative to having different colors applied directly where you want them, if you wish.

Simple fold/drip

You can fold a shirt in half, with the fold line going vertically down the center of the shirt from neck to hem, and then in half again with this second fold crossing the chest. Then fold once more on the diagonal, so that the edges of the fabric that will form the parts of the cross are all straight together.

No need to tie at all, here, just drip dye directly from squirt bottles, or dip the fold lines in a shallow pan of dye mix. (You MUST use cold water dye, NOT all purpose dye such as Rit, if you are not boiling the shirts in a pot of dye. Procion MX dye is the best choice, for most people.) I personally prefer to apply dye directly where I want it, without tying at all. I really love smooth rainbow gradations. The best dye to use for the cross itself in this case is the one which will spread the least, which is fuchsia.

You can fold the same as in the previous description, but also tie it. Fold the shirt in half, then quarters, then eighths, and then take a rubber band to tie up a circle in the middle near the long diagonal that won’t be part of the cross itself. Carefully apply dye to the arms of the cross by dipping it or by squirting cool water dye on with a squirt bottle, then apply other colors of dye to the tied part.

Fold the outline
Using a pencil or a washable marker, draw the outline of a cross on your shirt, making the bars at least two or three inches wide. Fold the shirt in half so that the fold passes symmetrically through the vertical bar. Starting at one end, on the fold, scrunch the fabric tightly along the line, continuing until you reach the fold at the other end. Tie tightly across the fold line. Add rubber bands, spaced evenly, for repeats of the cross outside of the design.

Drip dye/Iron-on
You can also dye a shirt in several colors with no white at all, and then iron-on a cross made by printing on opaque computer printer iron-on paper.

You can also draw a cross design with melted wax, as batik, and then dye it. This one is cool if you have some words you want to include in the design, just write them with the melted wax. This requires that you have special equipment, though, an electric skillet to melt the wax and tjantings to draw with the wax on the shirt. This is all explained on How to Batik, but it is more trouble than the rest, so it’s not a starter project.

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