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Simple Dyed Ombre (Dilution Method)

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I’m not a huge fan of dyeing things one solid color, so when I was planning out my dotted batik tank top I thought it would look really cool if the darkest color was in the center with the dots and got gradually lighter farther out.

Most methods for ombre gradients involve dip dying, but I didn’t think that would be best way to achieve the look for this project. Realistically I just needed to figure out a way to put less dye on the fabric, so couldn’t I just water down the dye?

I couldn’t find anyone else who had done it this way, which made me a little nervous. Maybe it was too simple to be true? Maybe the whole thing would be turn out to be a disaster. But the theory seemed sound, so all that was left was to just give it a try and see what happened.

It totally worked.

It was quick, easy, and simple. I love projects that look great despite being a simple technique.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Make sure you protect the surface you’re working on. I do most of my dyeing in a plastic bin because it keeps the mess contained and makes clean up easy.

Fill the squeeze bottle with the strongest concentration (darkest) dye. Apply the dye where you want the darkest color. Make sure that you add enough dye that the area is fully saturated. It should soak through to the back of the shirt and you should see it spreading out along the edges.

Tank top with purple dye stripe along center
See how you can see the dye spreading from the original line?

Discard dye from the bottle until it is half full (or half empty, depending on whether you’re an optimist or pessimist), then add water until the bottle is full again. This dilutes the concentration so the next section will be slightly lighter.
Add dye to the next section. Continue discarding half and refilling to the top with water until you’ve dyed your entire project. I used 5 different concentrations of dye for my shirt.

Squeeze bottle half full of dye
Dilute by using half a bottle of dye and adding water to fill to the top.
Tank top with numbered purple gradients
Each row of dye labeled from 1-5 (darkest to lightest). The least concentrated dye (5) was only applied at the top.

Cover with plastic to keep moist and let set for 24 hours before rinsing and washing (full instructions here).

It’s going to look darker wet than it will after you’ve washed the excess dye out. Look at how much lighter this tank top is after washing!

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