Geode Dyeing Fabric

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My oldest son is going through a phase where he’s obsessed with rocks and minerals.

I can totally understand. When I was about the same age I went through the same phase. It was one of my longer phases too, lasting for a few years. I even got a field guide for identifying rocks and minerals and I thought it was the coolest thing ever!  I especially loved the section on minerals because there are so many beautiful crystals.

My son loves crystals too. He is especially fond those geode slices – you know those brightly colored ones with the rings of crystals? He doesn’t have one yet but every time we’re in a gift shop we end up spending at least 10 minutes looking over their collection. (I think I know what a certain somebody is getting for Christmas this year!)

His recent obsession inspired me. I really wanted to make some fabric that mimicked those beautiful patterns, but I have to admit I struggled with getting it to work correctly.

It wasn’t until I found this YouTube video (below) by MrTieDye that I had success. This really was the most clear and well explained tutorial I could find, so a huge thanks to him for helping me finally getting the effect I wanted!

Here are a couple of important takeaways:

Tie it off as tightly as you can manage.

Update: Check out more tips here for getting tight sinew.

My first attempt was done with rubber bands and they weren’t tight enough so the dye bled under. It still made a really interesting pattern on the fabric, but I really wanted to get those definitive white lines.

Blue, green and turquoise circles dyed onto fabric

My first attempt at geode dyeing.

In his video, MrTieDie says to use sinew and let the fabric dry before tying it. I tried that and I still wasn’t able to get it tight enough.

Green, turquoise and blue crystalline pattern dyed onto fabric

Attempt #2. Fabric was allowed to dry before tying with sinew, but I still didn’t get it tight enough.

I wasn’t about to give up so I tried one last time, this time while the fabric was wet and I finally had success! I mustered all the strength my tiny noodle arms could make and pulled the sinew as tightly as I could. I was actually able to see some of the liquid squeezing out.

To tighten the sinew, just wrap around the fabric a few times and start pulling. If you feel the sinew coming loose, just wrap a couple more times. It’ll tighten on itself and you’ll be able to pull it without it letting go.

Starting to tie fabric with sinew

Starting to tie fabric with sinew

Finished tying the fabric with sinew

Finished tying the fabric with sinew


Fabric dyed with geode pattern in green tones

Finally attempt #3 was a success! Tied with sinew as tight as I could get it while the fabric was still wet, I finally got those white lines that make it look like a geode.

Tying the fabric irregularly is the key to making those jagged circles.

If you pull the fabric up evenly before tying off, you’ll end up with circles. If you tie it off irregularly, a little more on one side and a little unevenly, you’ll get the lumpy and bumpy circles that make it look more like a geode.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the steps to geode dye:

  1. Soak in soda ash solution
  2. Tie off the geode circles tightly with sinew
  3. Ice dye by layering ice over your fabric then sprinkling powdered dye over the ice (full ice dye tutorial here)

I just absolutely love the finished look of this method!

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