How To Tie-Dye Cotton Yarn

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Dyeing yarn is at the heart of fiber arts. Unfortunately for me, my family is allergic to wool, so the traditional methods are out. I decided to try my hand at tie-dyeing cotton yarn. It turned out to be a SUPER fun, easy, and very rewarding process!

How To Tie-Dye Cotton Yarn | Hooked by Kati

This past weekend, my little boys and I decided it was time for a Spring tradition, tie-dyeing T-shirts! The boys’ school has a “Hippie Feel Good Day” every year when all the kids wear tie-dye shirts, fun sunglasses and sing feel-good songs together. As a result, new tie-dye shirts are a part of our May to-do list every year.

This year, I decided to try something to get in on the fun and tie-dye some yarn.

I bought some 100% cotton yarn (I used Lily Sugar’N Cream Super Size in white) and the normal tie-dye kits I always do: Tulip One-StepTie-Dye Kit. They are the ones with the bottles, so mixing is easy and less messy.

When I got it all home, I realized I needed to go backward with my yarn and take it out of a skein and back into a hank to dye it.

How To Tie-Dye Cotton Yarn | Hooked by Kati

I don’t have a skein winder (although I may get one if I keep doing this tie-dye thing!), so I got out my yarn bowl, pushed two chairs together, and tied one end of the yarn to the back of the chair. Then I started to unravel the skein into a long loop over both chair backs. It took a few minutes, but before too long, I had a nice unrolled hank of yarn. I cut two strands about 8 inches long and used them to tie around the hank, securing the ends in place and keeping the whole thing together. This will keep it from tangling when you are washing it later.

How To Tie-Dye Cotton Yarn | Hooked by Kati

Just like the T-shirts my boys were dyeing, I wet the yarn and wrung it out.

Then, with a plastic tablecloth down, I laid out my yarn and added my desired colors. I went neon with my first one. J In the future, I will put down plastic wrap FIRST and then dye the yarn. The yarn has to be wrapped in plastic at the end, and it is easier to wrap if you don’t have to move it after dyeing.

I put a gap of white between each section, and I’m glad I did. The color bleeds down the fibers of the yarn, and they blend together. Had I put the colors too close together, they would have gotten murky in the transition. Make sure you get all the yarn colored but do not drench it! It will be sitting overnight wet, so you don’t want it in a puddle.

When I laid the plastic wrap on top, I tucked in the sides and pressed it down in the center of the ring so that the dye couldn’t seep to the other side. The plastic is so the dye stays wet, so make sure it is airtight. Then I let mine sit overnight. The instructions say at least 8 hours.

How To Tie-Dye Cotton Yarn | Hooked by Kati
How To Tie-Dye Cotton Yarn | Hooked by Kati

The next day, I rinsed out the yarn with cold water and then washed it with blue Dawn dish soap. I went around the ring and washed it a section at a time so that it didn’t get tangled.

I didn’t want the sun to fade the color, so I laid the yarn out the dry on my laundry drying rack in my living room. It needs to be rotated and “fluffed” occasionally so it dries evenly.

Then, I twisted it into a hank, and it was ready to use!

And now, all I can think about is what colors I will do next!! So go! Dye yourself some awesome yarn! Make me a tie-dyed llama and comment with pictures!

You’ll need:

  • 100% white cotton yarn (I used Lily Sugar’N Cream Super Size.)
  • Tulip Tie-Dye kit in desired colors
  • Plastic table cloth
  • Plastic wrap Blue
  • Dawn Dish Soap  


  1. Unwind yarn into a large loop. Make sure it is tied off so it doesn’t knot up when you wash it.     
  2. Wet yarn thoroughly.
  3. Mix dye as directed.
  4. Cover work area on plastic table cloth.
  5. Wear gloves!
  6. Lay ring of yarn out on a piece of plastic wrap.
  7. Color as desired. Leave more white than you think necessary because dye WILL bleed. Use your fingers to make sure you get color on all the yarn.
  8. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap, tuck in the sides and press down the middle. Do not let the yarn touch in the middle of the ring!  
  9. Let sit for at least 8 hours.
  10. Rinse in cold water until water runs clear.
  11. Wash carefully with dish soap. Do not tangle up yarn while washing!
  12. Rinse thoroughly.
  13. To soften yarn, mix 50% water and 50% vinegar in a large bowl.
  14. Soak yarn in vinegar for 15 minutes, be careful not to tangle. Rinse thoroughly.
  15. Lay out to dry for 24 hours. Roll back into a ball and use in your next project!
How to tie-dye yarn tutorial by Hooked by Kati
Don’t forget it! Pin it!

Learn how to soften stiff cotton yarn HERE.

Yarn on,


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One Comment

  1. Hi Kati! Thank you so much for this tutorial. I was given a huge box of old unused Tulip dye bottles and two big cones of natural cotton twine. I can’t wait to try this! What did you end up making with your yarn?

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