How to Make Pastel Tie Dye
It’s no secret that tie dye has become THE CRAFT of this COVID-19 quarantine era we’re currently living through–not only with home crafters, but also in fashion. Many popular brands are incorporating the retro-vibed style into everything from t-shirts and sweats to dresses, skirts, blouses, and even accessories like bags and face masks!
One of our favorite takes on tie dye that we continue seeing from trendy brands like LoveShackFancy and Stoney Clover Lane and cannot get out of our brains is pastel tie dye. Dyeing with pale brights is a gorgeous way to more subtly rock the tie dye trend while still being totally funky — not to mention flirty and feminine!
You don’t need to have pastel-colored dye to get a pale hued effect when tie dyeing. Rather, you can play with dye-powder-to-water ratios to create diluted colors that yield gorgeous results!
We recently published TNTP’s Tie Dye Color Chart, which contains dozens of color recipes for mixing your own dye colors — including pastels — using Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®!
Inspired by our color recipes for these candy-like tones, we wanted to give this gorgeous take on tie dye a try and create some truly beautiful garments. The results are not only gorgeous, but — with a few key tools — are also SO easy to achieve!
Read on to learn how to make pastel tie dye to create your own pale multi-colored looks!
Items to dye! Lots to say on this. Featured in this post are cotton t-shirts, a cotton skirt, and a rayon dress. If you’re looking for lacy, frilly, flirty dresses and skirts to dye, some keywords to help your search: lace, eyelet, swiss dot, pointelle, ruffle, layered, tiered, smock/smocked, babydoll. For best results: Items should be 100% natural fibers such as cotton, rayon, linen, and silk. Some blends with 50% or more natural fiber will work ok. 100% synthetic fibers such as polyester and acrylic will not absorb any dye.
- Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®* or dye of choice (tutorial shows Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®)
- 1.25 ml Tie Dye Powder Scoop* or 1/4 teaspoon
- 4 0z. Tie Dye Squeeze Bottles*
- Rubber bands* or thick string
- Paper towel
- Tie Dye Rack
- Ziplock bags or plastic wrap
- Apron* or smock
- Plastic tablecloth* or garbage bag
*Indicates items are included in TNTP’s Tie Dye Kits!
Mixing Your Pastel Dye
The key to making pretty pastel dye is to use a very small amount of dye powder when mixing with water. Our handy 1.25 ml tie dye powder scoop makes measuring a breeze! You can also use a 1/4 teaspoon, which is the same size as our scoop. (Note: We recommend keeping your tie dye utensils separate from food use! If using a 1/4 teaspoon, avoid using it with food afterward.)
All of the items pictured in this post used the following ratio of Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye® to water: 1/2 scoop for every 4 oz. of water. If you’re using our tie dye kit or squeeze bottles, that’s 1/2 scoop for 1 full bottle of water.
If you’d like a slightly darker color, you can use 1 full scoop for every 4 oz. of water.
You can refer to our Tie Dye Color Chart for a complete list of color recipes, including pastels! You can also half or quarter the scoop measurements to create pastel versions of the bright colors on the chart. Pictured below is a pastel lime green in the making: 1 scoop yellow + 1/4 scoop of green.
Tie Dye Patterns & Applying Pastel Dye
Tieing: There are lots of fun tie dye patterns you can try — and all look fantastic with pastel dye! You can find all of our tie dye pattern tutorials here on our Online Craft Studio Tie Dye tutorials page! Use rubber bands or thick string to bind up your patterns.
Dyeing: Before you dye, cover your workspace with a plastic tablecloth or garbage bag, wear gloves, and lay out paper towels or a tie dye rack (rack on top of a tray or bin) upon which to dye your items.
When choosing which dye colors to use together, our biggest tip is to think about how the colors will blend together when placed next to each other. Colors next to one another on the rainbow spectrum are guaranteed to dye nicely next to each other, too! You’ll want to be more careful with opposite or complementary colors. When placing two colors that might turn muddy next to one another, be sure to leave some white space to allow space for colors to bleed without blending.
Letting Your Items Soak
Once your items have been dyed, place them in Ziplock bags or wrap them up in plastic wrap.
To get the fullest color intensity, let your items sit for 8-24 hours. If you want your items to be extra pastel, let them sit for 1-4 hours.
Rinsing & Washing Your Dyed Items
Once your items are done soaking, it’s time to rinse & wash them out. Put your gloves back on and rinse each item individually under warm running water until the water runs clear.
You then have two options for washing your items: hand wash or machine wash. For more delicate items or items whose dye you want to keep super vibrant, hand washing and air drying is preferable. For casual items, such as cotton t-shirts, you can throw those items in the wash. Wash each item separately on warm with a little detergent and dry as usual.
Pastel Tie Dye Outfit Inspiration
Look 1: Lilac, Light Pink, & Peach Scrunch Tie Dye – Pointelle Tank & Swiss Dot Ruffle Skirt
Create this pastel tie dye look by using the scrunch method with 1/2 scoops each of Purple, Fuchsia & Orange Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®. Items soaked for 12 hours, were hand-washed, then hung dry.
Look 2: Powder Blue, Lilac, Light Pink & Peach Swirl Tie Dye – Cotton T-Shirt with Patches
Create this pale pastel tie dye tee with the swirl method, using 1/2 scoops each of Turquoise, Purple, Fuchsia & Orange Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®. Item soaked for 6 hours and was machine-washed and -dryed.
Look 3: Lilac Scrunch Tie Dye – Tank Dress with Lace & Tassel Details
Create this single-color pastel tie dye dress with the scrunch method, using 1/2 scoop of Purple Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®. Item soaked for 12 hours, was hand-washed, then hung dry.
I hope this post inspired you to experiment with pastel tie dye! With colors this delicious, you truly can’t go wrong.
If you try out this tutorial, be sure to share your process and results with us on Instagram by tagging us @theneonteaparty, and leave any questions in the comments below!
Peace, love & neon,
Do you remember what color combination you used for the t-shirt dress that is in the picture with multiple articles of clothing?
Hi Rachel! I used the lightest pastels from our tie color chart: https://theneonteaparty.com/online-craft-studio/tie-dye/tie-dye-color-chart/
My only additional tip is for the pastel green — make pastel yellow and add just the slightest bit of green to make it lime rather than spearmint. 🙂
Happy pastel tie dyeing! xoxo, Marisa
Hi:) just a couple questions when your measuring off the new color chart you created…for instance the color fuchsia is it
4 (1/4) scoops+ 4 (4oz) of water so 16 oz? Then..the second color:
3 (1/4) scoops+3(4oz) water so 12oz water? Next color..
2 (1/4) scoops+2(4oz) water so 8oz water?
So every (1/4) scoop of dye powder is 4 oz o water? When you are doing pastels?
I just wanted to make sure I was measuring correctly to get the colors I wanted:)
Hi Therese!! Thank you for your question! With the color chart, always use 4oz of water with the # of scoops recommended right there on the chart (even if you’re combining colors). If you are using a larger bottle / would like to make a larger batch of dye than the 4 oz, just scale up the number of scoops in proportion to the amount of water you’re using. Does that make sense? I hope that’s helpful! xx, Marisa