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  • Writer's picturegeriberman

Tie-Dyeing the Reynolds Top/Dress by Helen's Closet Patterns

Today another collaboration that I did with Helen’s Closet Patterns will go live on the blog of her website. This time, we are presenting a 5-part Tie-Dye Series celebrating the Reynolds Top/Dress.

I proposed this project to Helen because the classic lines of this sundress provide the perfect canvas for a tie-dye project. Also, I wanted to experiment with colour-blocking and pattern-mixing different tie-dye patterns in a single Reynolds garment. I share how I accomplished this by creating a centre front seam, and inserting the tie-dyeing in the middle of the sewing process. The process goes something like this: preparing the pattern pieces, like cutting and overlocking the fabric pieces first, tie dyeing them, then finishing sewing up the garment after.

There are at least 5 different tie-dye techniques that I share, and all of them are beginner-friendly. In the first instalment, I go into the details of crumple dyeing. And in subsequent instalments, which will be posted daily (except for Sunday), I show how I make amoeba patterns, spiral patterns, fan-folding patterns and Mandala patterns. The last technique is my personal favourite. Most of the tools used for the techniques can be found at a dollar store, and I use the squeeze-bottle technique for dye application so that multiple colours can be applied at once. The binding is mostly done with rubber bands, and in the last 2 instalments, I introduce using sinew as a binding tool. Sinew or artificial sinew is used in leatherwork and beading, and it is basically strong thread that is waxed. Compared to rubber bands or strings, it provides a tighter bind, and therefore cleaner resist lines and more precise tie-dye patterning. This product can be found in beading stores, sewing supply stores, art and crafts stores and online.

In the final instalment, I reveal a full-length Reynolds creation that incorporates all the above-mentioned techniques. You might be thinking that that sounds like a pattern-clashing party, and to be honest that was the greatest fear I had when working on it. But to my relief, the garment turned out way better than I thought it would. “More is more” definitely works as a design concept here. However, there were some amalgamating factors that made the dress work. First, I used the same dye colours throughout, and second, the patterns are all based on circular shapes. These 2 unifying elements allowed the different patterns to work together instead of against each other.

My biggest wish is that this tie-dye series would inspire many others to start their tie-dyeing journeys, and make their tie-dyed versions of the Reynolds Top/Dress. It is such a fun way to further customise your me-made wardrobe. While working on this, my daughter wanted in on the tie-dye action as well, and became my tie-dye assistant. While exploring these folding, binding and colouring techniques, we also spent some quality bonding time as well. In the 3rd instalment of the series, there is a bonus hack where I show how to convert the Reynolds Top/Dress into a girl’s pattern.

This classic sundress has no closures, so it is a relatively easy sew. However, there are some smashing details that make it stand out. For example, there are mitred corners at the hem and side seams for the dress versions, and straps wide enough to make the garment bra-friendly. In the process of creating this series, I’ve made 6 versions of this pattern, and I definitely can sew this in my sleep right now. Sizes for the pattern go from size 0 to size 34, with the largest size catering to a 62 inch full bust and hip measurement, and a cup D bra size. I made a size 4 with zero modifications, and it fits quite perfectly.

I used a mid-weight linen from and I think linen works very well with this sewing pattern, and also for tie-dyeing. The dye that I chose to use for this series is Rit Dye All-Purpose Liquid Dye because I think it is easy to work with especially for beginners. I am only showing the first 2 garments in the pictures here today because I didn’t want to reveal spoilers for the subsequent instalments. These 2 garments are examples of crumple dyeing, which is one of the easiest techniques to start off with, but the patterning that results from it can have a gorgeous effect.

Tune in to Helen’s blog everyday from today onwards to get all the scoop on creating unique tie-dye patterns for your one-of-a-kind Reynolds Top/Dress. If you do, please show me your work by tagging me on Instagram (@geri_in_stitches) or sending me a picture via the blog chat here. Happy tie-dyeing!

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