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A History of Tie Dye

Fair Trade Tie Dye Skirts First off let me just say how awesome tie dye is!

Mystical Mayhem loves tie dye and both Simon and I have loads of tie dye clothing which we wear all of the time. Trousers, t-shirts, vests, skirts – you name it and we have it. There is something about tie dye that makes me smile and makes me think of the summer. Come rain or shine I think tie dye looks great all year round. Tie dye is a style that suits everyone and can come in such a range of colours from bright, trippy and psychedelic to nice gentle neutral and pastel colours.

Festival Tie Dye

So, what is tie dyeing?

In a nutshell, tie-dye is a process of tying and dyeing a piece of fabric or cloth, usually cotton; typically using nice bright colours. Tie dye is used traditionally throughout many cultures around the world. Tie-dyeing is done first by choosing the item that you want to hippy-fy, then by folding the material into a pattern, and binding it with string or rubber bands. Dye is then applied to only certain parts of the material.  The reason that the material is tied is so that the dye only reaches the required pieces of the material.  Designs are formed by applying different colours of dyes to different sections of the wet fabric. Once complete, the material is rinsed, and the dye is set.
Once the dye is set and everything is dry, you have  yourself an new amazing tie dye item 🙂

We thought that we would give you a quick History of Tie Dye as we find it all very fascinating.

Tie Dye in the Western world
In 1909 tie dye Professor Charles E Pellow managed to acquire some samples of muslin that had been tie dyed and so then he decided to give a lecture and a live demonstration of the technique.

Shibori and batik  were different types of tie dye technique that  were used occasionally in Western fashion before the 1960s. Not much of this was seen until modern psychedelic tie-dying t become a fad in the late 1960s following the example set by rock stars such as Janis Joplin and John Sebastian (who did his own dyeing).
Particularly after the introduction of affordable Rit dyes, it became popular as a cheap and accessible way to customise inexpensive T-shirts, singlets, dresses, jeans, army surplus clothing, and other garments into psychedelic creations. Tie dye became the way to make old tired clothing into something bright, new and funky.
Some of the leading names in tie-dye at this time were Water Baby Dye Works (run by Ann Thomas and Maureen Mubeem), Bert Bliss, and Up Tied, the latter winning a Coty Award for “major creativity in fabrics” in 1970. Up Tied created tie-dyed velvets and silk chiffons which were used for exclusive one-of-a-kind garments by Halston, Donald Brooks, and Gayle Kirkpatrick, whilst another tie-dyer, Smooth Tooth Inc. dyed garments for Dior and Jonathan Logan. In late 1960s London, Gordon Deighton created tie-dyed shirts and trousers for young fashionable men which he sold through the Simpsons of Piccadilly department store in London.

Tie Dye in Africa
Tie-dye techniques have also been used for centuries in West Africa in the region of Hausa . Hausa has well renowned indigo dye pits which are located in Nigeria. The Indigo dye is use for the tie-dyed clothing which is then embroidered in traditional patterns. It has been suggested that these African techniques were the inspiration for the tie-dyed garments identified with hippie fashion.

Tie Dye in The Americas
The earliest surviving examples of tie-dye in Peru date from 500 to 810 AD. The typical  Peruvian designs included small circles and lines, with lots of bright colours including red, yellow, blue, and green.

 Tie Dye in Asia

Shibori is a form of tie-dye that originated in Japan and Indonesia. It has been practiced in Asia since at least the 8th century. The  Shibori technique includes a number of labor intensive resist techniques which include stitching elaborate patterns and tightly gathering the stitching before dyeing, forming intricate designs for mainly for kimonos but was liked so much has been used for many items.  Another shibori method is to wrap the fabric around a core of rope, wood or other material, and bind it tightly with string or thread. The areas of the fabric that are against the core or under the binding would remain undyed.

Plangi and tritik are Indonesian words, derived from Japanese words, for methods related to tie-dye, and ‘bandhna’ a term from India, giving rise to the Bandhani fabrics of Rajasthan. Ikat is a method of tie-dyeing the warp or weft before the cloth is woven.

Mudmee tie-dye originates in Thailand and neighbouring part of Laos. It uses different shapes and colours from other types of tie-dye, and the colors are, in general, more subdued. Another difference is that the base colour is black.