How to Turn Vegetables Into a Tie-Dye Pattern

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Credit…Charlie Engman

In the latest installment of our Designer D.I.Y. at Home series, Hillary Taymour, the creative director of Collina Strada, offers a creative use for excess beets.

At a time when everyone is isolated at home, nervous about spending money and without an occasion to dress up, what can we do to help you pass the time?

Styles has started a series of print-and-keep D.I.Y. wardrobe customization ideas, similar to the sewing patterns that glossy magazines used to provide. We want you to remember the joy of fashion and learn (or remember) how to make things at home. Some of fashion’s best-known creative talents will be on hand to guide you through the process.

Sustainability may be fashion’s favorite buzzword, but Hillary Taymour, the designer behind Collina Strada, doesn’t just pay lip service to the concept; she brings it down to earth, treating sustainability like something everyone can practice every day. Like by dyeing a white T-shirt using beets and turmeric.

“I look at tie-dye as a form of hand-painting on clothes,” Ms. Taymour said. “There’s no way to make exact replica tie-dyes.”

She has been using tie-dye in her collections since 2018, sometimes with three to six different techniques in one garment, elevating the summer camp pastime into an artisanal practice. Here, she demonstrates one technique: the subtle plaid tie-dye.

Your tool kit

  • White T-shirt

  • 3 beets

  • 1/3 cup turmeric

  • Splash of white vinegar. (Apple cider vinegar will do in a pinch.)

  • 2 pots and 2 large mixing bowls

  • 2 rubber bands

  • A spoon

Credit…Charlie Engman


Prepare two pots of boiling water. Cut up the beets and place in one pot, allowing them to boil for one hour. Add a splash of the vinegar. This will help your dye hold pigment.

Pour the turmeric into the second pot and boil for eight minutes.

When both dyes are done, pour them into two bowls (or similar large containers).


Lay the shirt on a flat surface.

Pinch the fabric between the neck and shoulder seam of the T-shirt. Carefully drag it toward the middle of the shirt, creating a vertical fold down the centerline of the shirt. Fold the sleeve inward, too, aligning its edge with the far end of the fold that you just made.

Repeat on the other side of the shirt. You should have one long column.

Credit…Charlie Engman


Pick up the shirt and carefully fold it vertically down the centerline, outward or away from you. (You’re folding one of the long halves behind the other, making your column thinner by half.)

Lay the column flat, and imagine it was horizontally broken up into four pieces.

You’ll be piling the four quarters on top of one another, but alternating the direction of the folds. You can start by folding the bottom quarter upward. Then take that two-layer stack and fold it underneath the next quarter of the shirt. Continue alternating folds until the shirt looks like a thick rectangle.

Credit…Charlie Engman


With the rectangle vertical, wrap two rubber bands around the shirt horizontally so that the shirt is split into three segments.


Using a spoon, start dropping turmeric dye into the center of the shirt. Leave the edges white. Make sure the dye saturates through all of the layers, spooning the turmeric in between each fold.

Now pick up the bundle and dip the white edges into the beet dye, counting to 15 seconds, and repeating on all four sides. Essentially your rectangle should have a yellow center with a pink frame.

Credit…Charlie Engman
Credit…Charlie Engman
Credit…Charlie Engman


Open it up and lay it flat to dry overnight. (Don’t hang it up!) It’ll be ready for you to wear the next morning.

Photograph by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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