How to Make an Ombre Dyed Fabric Tote Bag

This post is brought to you by I Love to Create's Tie Dye your Summer program.

I love the ombre dip-dyed look but the idea of dip dying anything is kind of overwhelming. Plus most of the tutorials that involve dipping and waiting usually have weird lines that I don't love. And then there's all the time. And all the space. And all the mess. And all the CLEANING UP of the mess. 

Whew! I got exhausted just typing that! Which is why even though I've loved this trend for a couple years now I had yet to make a single ombre dyed anything. That all changed this week thanks to the Tulip One-Step Tie Dye Kit. Unlike summer camp tie-dye where you have to mix and measure and soak and bladie, bladie blah (so much work!) - you just add water and dye things! EASY. Low Mess. Full of win. Plus you can use it the make magical ombre things! And they turn out so pretty. Let me show you how!


  • Tulip Tie-Dye Kit with colors you love (I had a Mega Kit)
  • Apron 
  • Gloves (gloves come in the kits but I like to use dishwasher gloves)
  • Cotton tote bag*
  • Large paint brush
  • Non-food bowl for water
  • Iron-on glitter vinyl (optional)
  • Craft cutter (optional)
*It is super important to use all-natural (cotton, hemp, silk, bamboo, etc) fibers for a tie dye project or the colors just don't look right - and may not even work at all. Be sure you check your labels so that you don't try to ombre dye your polyester skirt and wonder why the heck it isn't working (ahem).

Note: I'm showing you how to do this on a canvas tote because that is the project I'm featuring but you can use this technique on any natural fiber item - t-shirt, hoodie, towels, pillow covers, you name it! I need o order more dye but you can bet I'm doing this to a hoodie next week.


Step 1: Prep
Get everything set up before you add the water to your dye bottles. This means:
  • Pre-wash your tote bag (and anything else you're dying)
  • Cover your work surface (I worked in a cardboard box covered with a garbage bag)
  • Get your tools assembled
  • Set a bowl of water nearby (in a non-food container - it's going to get dye in it)
  • Lay your tote bag out on your work surface
Once everything is ready, go ahead and don your apron and gloves and mix your dye.

Step 2: Squirt and brush
Squirt a generous line of dye along the bottom edge of your tote bag. Working quickly, use your brush to drag the dye upward. Squirt more dye and drag upward as needed to get the level of saturation you like along the lower portion.

Step 3: Blend with water
To blend and get the faded color near the top, dip the paintbrush in water and drag it upward to pull even more dye (and water) up. Keep dipping and blending until you get the look you like.

Step 4: Flip and repeat
Depending on how porous your material is, your dye may or may not have been able to seep through to the back. Flip your piece over now and repeat steps 2 & 3 as needed to get an ombre look on the reverse side.

Step 5: Wait
Once you like how your bag looks with the right level of dye and fading, set it aside for a minimum of 6 hours to allow the dye to set.

Step 6: Rinse
Once you've waited at least 6 hours, put your gloves and apron back on and rinse the bag until the water runs clear. Then pop it in the washing machine with hot water and just a tablespoon or so of detergent. When it's done, put it in the dryer.

Step 7: Embellish
Now, you could really just stop here and you'd have a pretty nice looking tote. Of course, I can never leave anything well enough alone so I whipped out one of my fancy craft cutting machines and made an glitter vinyl iron-on to add to it. Not sure how to do that? I give you a step by step tutorial for how to do a glitter vinyl iron-on here.

I hope I've inspired you to get brave with dye! It was so easy and so much fun I actually made a whole bunch more ombre dyed things (more tutorials coming soon I'm sure)!

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