How to do a DNA tie dye

DNA Tie Dye

Where I first saw and heard of DNA dying was in a FB Group Called Addicted to TIE DYING. This group has a wealth of information in it and has VERY talented dye artist.  Yes, I really do mean Artist!  I could only wish to be half as good as most of them are. They also have a tutorial on DNA dying in the file section of the group.  As in any group, if you join, please read their rules.

DNA tie dye is done by accordion folding the fabric in nice even sections. Smaller section will give you a more defined look. I decided for this 2.5 yards of fabric to use 1.5″ pleats. I’m going to turn this into a ring sling.

You can’t tell here, but I folded my damp fabric in half . If you’re doing a t-shirt you would also work with your shirt folded, but it doesn’t half to be vertical it can be how ever you want the design to flow.

First I used a washable marker to mark every 1.5″ down the sides of my fabric. This step might be a bit much for some people, but it got me a very nice even fold.

To start the fold, I started at the end where I folded the fabric in half.  I picked up the first mark on the fabric and folded that to the 3rd mark. I pressed the fold with my fingers a bit to help it stay.  I then held where the top of the fold was and moved that up two lines. Once I got started, I found it easier to have the  folds up like in the photo and kept folding. So every other mark is the peak and the other the valley in the fold. Once I got going, I would line up two sections on each end, then kind of stretch outwards. It would help fold the middle of the fabric. You might need to adjust it a bit to make it even with the others.
*I thought using pins would help, but ended up taking them out a few folds in.

dna dye fold

 Once you’re done folding the fabric, put a few bands on to hold it in place.

Now measure your fabric width wise and figure out a good size for the spacing for the dye colors vs the number of colors you are using. I did ROYGBV(red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet*no indigo in this rainbow*) and repeated the pattern 3 times to give me 1.5″ sections….Well meant too. I had one extra section, because I miss measured.  Because of this sides are the same colors.

So after figuring out the spacing. I marked it along the fabric with the washable marker.

Now here is where I would change what I did.  Instead of using rubber bands, I would used string to mark the sections. I had to double the bands to make them tight enough to stay in place. But this made the fabric too tight for the dye to penetrate the fabric in the middle well.

dna fold 3


 Applying the dye is the key to getting the DNA effect. You will be applying dye to the top and bottom sides, which is the sides where you see the folds in the fabric. The top I started on the left side with ROYGBV pattern. Once I flipped it over, I have to shift the colors one section to the right. So now I start with violet(purple), then go in ROYGBV order. You want to apply the dye SLOWLY!  Watch the side of the fabric and apply the dye until it reaches half way down the side.  Also check in the middle creases to see how far down the dye has gone.  Then flip and dye the other side to meet in the middle, remembering to shift the colors one section.

I used a syringe to put the dye on the sections, so I could control it better. Also because the bottle I had were leaking!

Dye used here is Dylon brand. I mixed about half the packet in 1 cup hot water and added 1 Tablespoon extra Soda Ash and Salt to the bottle.  I had left over dye from this project since it was only 2.5yards. I had some shirts and swaddle blankets waiting though!

DNA Dye Applied

Once the dye is on put it in a trash bag and let it sit in the sun to warm it up. If it’s winter put it somewhere warm. It’s best to let it sit for 24 hours! I know that’s a long time to wait to see what you ended up with, but it will be worth it!

DNA Dye applied

 I didn’t do a Soda Ash pre-soak. So at around the 20ish hour mark, I mixed up some Soda Ash water and poured it over the fabric. Poke a hole in the bag and drain out the extra water. I had to cut the bands to peek, but then I folded it back and let it sit a few more hours in the sun.

DNA Tie Dye

 Here it was rinsed waiting to go into the washer.

DNA Tie Dye

 I’m kind of bummed the whole thing didn’t turn out like the middle did. That is more of the true DNA pattern I was hoping to get.  I think if I would had used the string instead of the rubber bands. I would had gotten the dye though the middle of the fabric better.

Dna Tie Dye

Here it was all washed and dried in the Sun. You can see the middle is a bit heavier on the dye.
The intro photo is a close up of the pattern finished.

DNA Tie Dye for a Ring Sling

 Feel free to ask questions, I will answer them the best that I can.


7 thoughts on “How to do a DNA tie dye

  1. Thank you so much for posting this!! Love your wrap!! I’ve decided this is the one I’m going to try. Fabric has been washed and dried in hot water and high heat for shrinkage. Cutting and heming it tomorrow. I’m working with 7 yards of osna if it makes a difference. But I’m still not to sure what you mean by shifting the colors one section to the right?? Will the same color be in the same section top and bottom?? Can you help me out a little more?? Is greatly appreciate it!! Thanks!! 😀


    • No, you will have different colors on the top and bottom of each section. On the top side I had red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple following the pattern until the end. On the bottom side you would want the red on top of the orange, orange on top of the yellow and so on. But since red was the first color and purple the last in the pattern. You start with purple or which ever color is the last color in your pattern, the follow the pattern to the end. Hope that helps.


  2. Thank you so much for writing this, it is a lot of help and I hope mine will turn out even half as good as yours. I have basically the same question. You start off with red left to right until the end, and then when you flip it, you start off with purple, then continue on to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple…correct?


    • Yes, that is correct.This gives the colors the Shift in the pattern. If you look horizontally you can see the colors shifting up and down as the go across the fabric. The green at the bottom is easiest to see this on. It is suppose to appear to be twisting around each other like a DNA stand would.


  3. This is GORGEOUS. I’ve been waffling over what to do for a ring sling and you’ve convinced me. Thanks for such a good tutorial – detailed but concise and clear, really really helpful!


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