DIY Mock Tie-Dye

For the flower child on the go.


In the spirit of this month’s theme, I thought it’d be fun to show you how to do some imitation tie-dye using supplies you’ll most likely be able to find around the house. It may sound a bit weird to tie-dye without the actual dye, but it does work and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the end results!


What you’ll need:

    • Sharpie markers in different colors (any permanent marker will work!).
    • Rubbing alcohol (70% alcohol or higher).
    • A medicine dropper.
    • Something to dye (like an old T-shirt). Whatever you decide to use must be 100% cotton or the ink won’t set properly.
    • A piece of cardboard covered with a garbage bag.
    • An iron.

Safety first: You’ll definitely need to do this project in a well-ventilated area (like in front of an open window or outside). The fumes from both the rubbing alcohol & markers can get really strong and irritating over a period of time. Also, don’t use the iron by yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing.

All right, let’s get started!


First, slide the plastic-covered piece of cardboard inside your T-shirt (or whatever you’re dyeing), between the front and back layers;; this will help keep the colors from bleeding through.

Now you can go to town using your Sharpies to draw different patterns—stripes, circles, whatever you want. I find that flowery shapes and starbursts (as shown above) make really nice tie-dye-esque designs.


You can also try using more-traditional tie dyeing methods: Folding sections of your T-shirt accordion style, then use rubber bands (or bobby pins if you don’t have any bands handy) to secure the pleats in place. You don’t have to get it perfect—just fold it any way that you can.


Scribble over the top of the pleats with your Sharpie.



Use a medicine dropper to place a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol in the center of each design. This will make the ink spread and create the tie-dye effect. The more alcohol you use, the more the colors will spread.


Sit back for a bit it and see which way your design decides to run!


Let your T-shirt dry overnight in a well-ventilated area or hang it outside to dry. DO NOT put it in the dryer! Rubbing alcohol and dryers do not mix. At best, you’ll leave a permanent stain on the inside of the dryer, but at worst you’ll set it on fire. Be sure to take the bands/clips off of the T-shirt when it’s still semi-damp, just so it will all dry evenly.


Once your shirt has completely dried (seriously, it cannot be even a smidgen damp at this point!) press the whole thing with a hot iron to set the colors. After that you can wash and dry it as usual, though I’d suggest putting it in the wash on its own so you don’t accidentally dye the rest of your clothes too!


Now you’ve got yourself a fun, summery tie-dyed T-shirt that cost next to nothing to make! Go out and show off your work. ♦


  • KatGirl July 26th, 2013 4:05 PM

    Hehe, now I can look like a hippie! :D

  • emseely July 26th, 2013 4:17 PM

    fun, i wanna try :D

  • emseely July 26th, 2013 4:45 PM

    i just made a really cute little bralette thingy… i love easy diys, i am way too impatient for convoluted ones so thanks so much rooks!

  • Aoife July 26th, 2013 5:09 PM

    That’s so cool, definitely going to try it!

  • madame_addie July 26th, 2013 6:17 PM


  • shalalala July 26th, 2013 6:35 PM

    oh my god i can’t believe!!! i was sitting here and thinking “oh, maybe rookie have an diy tie tye” and when i open the website here it is! you’re amazing xoxo

  • izi July 26th, 2013 6:42 PM

    this tutorial is great!!!! i was just wondering if you can use black sharpie instead of colored ones? thanks!

    • Rhiannon July 29th, 2013 11:55 AM

      From what I remember I think there are different colours in black pens….so I think it would work but a mixture of colours would look brighter I guess :)

  • sophiethewitch July 26th, 2013 6:45 PM

    This is brilliant.

  • Kleio July 26th, 2013 7:05 PM

    so cute! i haven’t done tie-dye since i was five, but i’m psyched to try it now!

  • howfitting July 26th, 2013 7:22 PM

    I really love tie dye and that is awesome that now I can make my hippie shirts more interesting!

  • Sophie ❤ July 26th, 2013 7:23 PM

    The result is absolutely gorgeous!

  • Saana V July 26th, 2013 7:43 PM

    OHH MAAN i was supposed to have a tie-dye party this summer but school starts in a bit (seriously! three weeks!) so I’m gonna end up doing this.. all by myself. Such a good tutorial tho, tie dying can be so much work but this seem so easy!

  • Logan July 26th, 2013 8:32 PM

    This is so genius. I’ve been wanting to tie dye shirts for ages now but the in-store kits are so pricey! Then this beautiful tutorial rolls around. Love it :)

  • AngstyTheBrave July 26th, 2013 9:25 PM

    Oh I needed this! I can’t find a tie-dye kit for under $30, and I have no more money. But I do have Sharpies!

  • r0cketdog July 26th, 2013 10:05 PM

    marlena you are my hero! ahh you’re so creative.

  • Cynthia July 26th, 2013 11:23 PM

    this is brilliant, I shall try this as soon as I can get my hands on a white T-shirt! (also, I heard about Tavi coming to speak at the Sydney Opera House and that’s exciting- I wanna go! anyone wanna convince my sister to buy tickets (because I don’t have money!) and take me there??)

  • book_kitty July 27th, 2013 12:40 AM

    I did something like this a little while ago, and the Sharpie brand markers I used to do the tie-dying were fine but I also used an offbrand marker to do extra details and it turned out all wonky in the wash :( fun if it works tho!

  • sissiLOL July 27th, 2013 2:08 AM

    VERY nice DIY!!!!

  • nana July 27th, 2013 3:17 AM

    Love tie dye

  • whatever July 27th, 2013 5:09 AM

    i’m gonna do this today! uwu do u have 2 do both sides or does it just seep through and create like a mirrored pattern 2 the front?? uWU

  • Susieyay July 27th, 2013 5:24 AM

    AH! Thank you so much! I’ve been wanting to tie dye for weeks but I couldn’t afford all the dye :C I’m so doing this today… :D

  • hypnosis July 27th, 2013 1:04 PM

    Do the colors bleed together when washed?

  • elliecp July 27th, 2013 1:51 PM

    This is so cool! I love how the design is like flowers <3

  • Zoe July 28th, 2013 3:45 AM

    !!!!!!!!! This is such a good idea!! I’ve been getting pretty bored of the patterns I make with my tie-dye kit, so this is GREAT.

  • Mary the freak July 29th, 2013 8:45 AM