Swirl tutorial – The Quick and Easy Method

I showed some of these swirls in an earlier post and people asked me how to do them. I have to admit that I didn’t think up this method on my own, the idea came from my friend Margo who abides in the same fabric-dyeing forum I belong to.

Typically in tie dyeing you take your shirt and pinch it in the middle (or where ever) with either a clothspeg or fork and then start to twist the material around the object holding the cloth. After you’ve gathered all of the material you tightly bind the fabric with twine or elastics and then dye it.

For this method you do the same thing but instead of binding off the material you just plop it into a bowl or container and then dye it. It’s a more relaxed way of doing the same thing. Personally I don’t think the swirl is quite as defined as the first method but for the amount of effort involved its great. I wouldn’t recommend using this method on a large amount of material rather we’re working with about 12″-14″ square here. (Having said that I used a left-over scrap of a fat-eighth so mine won’t be exactly circular when it’s washed out.)

Piece of soda-soaked fabric ready to swirl.

Fabric being pinched in middle.

Starting to twist material around clothpeg.

Keep twisting adjusting folds into smaller pleats as necessary.

Finished swirl.

Plop into small bowl.

Hair dye bottles with MX dye.

Applying boysenberry dye in pie-shaped wedges.

Filling in the other spaces with sapphire blue.

Flipping over swirl.

Applying dye to the other side.

Transferring swirl to clean bowl to prevent fabric from getting soggy with collected dye in bottom of bowl.

Personally I didn’t feel I’d applied enough dye to the first side so I flipped over the swirl and added a bit more dye over top the areas already dyed. I wiped up the extra dye in the bottom of the container after doing this to prevent the colours muddying.

Final step covering the bowl to let the swirl batch for 24 hours before the wash-out.

And that’s all there is to it. I’ll have to see how it turns out tomorrow when I wash it out. I might point out that there are different ways of dyeing the swirls. I was going to keep it simple and just dye with two colours in which case I would have applied the same colour of dye to the corresponding pie shaped wedges on the back. My problem was I grabbed the yellow instead of the boysenberry. So since I grabbed the wrong colour I decided to dye the whole back area yellow. What should happen is that I’ll get yellow stripes in between the red and blue. It’s a small piece of fabric so we’ll see how it turns out. If you’ve ever seen a rainbow swirled tie-dye with black stripes in between the colours you’ll know what I’m talking about.


6 responses to “Swirl tutorial – The Quick and Easy Method

  1. Thanks for a great tutorial. Only one question was your fabric wet or dry to start?

  2. Cool – why didn’t I think of dying fabric like that? I must have a go really soon. I wonder how I would go over dying some really bright pinks I had done? Thanks for the quick and easy tutorial – especially the bit about transferring it to a clean cup – I wouldn’t think of things like that…..grin.

  3. Can’t wait to see what it looks like Karen!

  4. Thanks all.

    Judi my fabric was wet but to tell the truth it would have given me more control if it was dry as the dye would have been sucked in rather than running off the top as it did.

    I wrung the fabric out by hand so did a poor job of it. Spinning the fabric in the washer really helps to get rid of excess liquid.

    It depends on the effect that you want. Working with dry fabric you get less blending of colours than with wet, however using dry fabric there is less white in between the colours if that makes sense. I know this from working with t-shirts.

    Applying dye to a dry t-shirt (if you do it right) will leave less white and the shirt really sucks up the dye. A wet t-shirt ,the dye molecules have a medium to travel through and blend but the water itself acts somewhat as a resist to the dye so more white is left in the shirt.


  5. Just found your blog and really like your tuts..lots of photos and instructions. Thank you for taking time to do this.

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