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How to Tie Dye with Natural Indigo

Published: 08/30/2020

Maybe you already know this, but tie-dying isn't just a fashion trend. It's a fantastic way to give boring (or stained) fabrics a second life – and a fun, easy craft that results in pieces that look like art (regardless of your artistic skills – or lack thereof). 

And if you're looking to go the natural route, indigo is the perfect place to start. Created from the fermented leaves of the indigo plant, evidence of indigo-dyed cloth has been found with Egyptian mummies going back 5,000 years – and it’s also been found in archeological ruins from Peru, Guatemala, China, Japan, and Africa. While indigo is one of the oldest dyes used for fabrics, it’s still used today to color blue jeans! And now, whatever you want to dye, too!

How to Tie Dye with Indigo


The Hello Bello Indigo Tie-Dye Kit dyes up to 5 lbs of fabric or 15 t-shirts.

STEP 1: Prep the Tie Dye Tub

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  • Fill a 5-gallon bucket with 4 gallons of warm water.
  • Empty the Indigo Dye packet into the water and slowly add the Soda Ash and reducing agent (Sodium Hydrosulfite).
  • Stir until dissolved. Stir the water in a circular motion and then reverse the direction of the stirring as you drag the stir stick along the outer edge of the bucket before removing it.
  • Cover the bucket with a lid while you tie your fabric. For best results, wait at least an hour until the liquid becomes a yellow-green color.

STEP 2: Tie Your Fabric

Part of the fun of tie-dying is you never know quite what you're going to get – but it almost always looks amazing. While string is the traditional material for tying, rubber bands are great, too. Whatever you use, just make sure it's tight.

For Circles or Spots: Pull up the fabric at a point and put a rubber band around it or place a small pebble, bean or popcorn in the tip of the fabric and the bind placed just under it. For concentric circles, place more than one rubber band on the pulled up area (spacing them apart). 

For Unpredictable Art, Use an Accordion Fold: This simple back forth fold can be done in many ways such as starting from the side or from a corner. Clamp folded fabric with rubber bands. With slight variations, you can get endless patterns.

STEP 3: Dye Your Fabric

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  • Wet your fabric thoroughly with water and squeeze out excess water.
  • Remove the cover from the bucket. (If there’s a thin blue skin, gently move it to the side.)
  • Slowly immerse your piece into the dye. Once submerged gently manipulate the piece for 1-3 minutes.
  • As you remove the fabric from the dye it will slowly begin to turn blue as the oxygen in the air hits it. Let oxidize for about 20 minutes. 

Repeat steps 2-4 for darker shades or you can rinse thoroughly, untie, and wash with a mild detergent and warm water. Gently stir the dye and replace the cover. 

STEP 4: Enjoy!

Share your creations on social media using ! We'd LOVE to see them (and share them, too)! 

Thanks to @summercamptiedye for sharing her photos with us! Follow her on Instagram for more inspiration or to order custom tie-dye pieces!