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Free project: Tie & Dye Carnival Socks

In Tie & Dye, Lizzie King shows how you can hand-dye your own clothing, textiles and accessories. Lizzie makes these colourful carnival socks every year in the run-up to the Notting Hill Carnival, but they work just as well for Mardi Gras made with green, gold and purple dye – or own choice of colours.

MATERIALS (makes 3 pairs):

3 pairs of white 100% cotton socks • elastic bands • rubber gloves • jug • spoon
Dye • salt • 3 squeezy bottles • bucket • 3 plastic bags

Lizzie’s top tip:

I usually dye a few pairs of socks at once – you can get multipacks from markets and big high street shops


1 Place two of your socks on top of each other on a clean flat surface. This is so that you get a matching pair.

2 Accordion fold your socks, starting at the top of the sock and folding all the way down to the toes.

3 Now secure with a tight elastic band on each end of the folded socks. Position the bands so that the socks are divided into three equal sections. Soak your socks in water, then squeeze out the excess water so they are damp but not dripping wet.

4 Mix up your dye following the instructions for my squeezy bottle technique on page 16. Pour each of the three colours into your three squeezy bottles.

5 Hold your socks over a bucket, take the red dye and pour gently over one end section of the sock. For this project you don’t want to overlap the dyes to make a blended colour. Pour the dye up to the elastic band. Remember that you have two socks folded together so the folds are quite thick. If you don’t want much white left on your socks, then poke the nozzle of the squeezy bottle into the folds of the socks and squirt some dye in there.

6 Now take the yellow dye and pour it over the middle section. Again squirt some dye into the folds, if you want.

7 Finally use the green dye to dye the last section of the socks. Squirt some dye into the folds of the sock, if you choose to.

8 Repeat the folding, tying and dyeing process on all your pairs of socks. Give the socks a squeeze and put each pair into a separate plastic bag. I usually wrap the bag around the socks then secure with an elastic band so that the dye won’t leak out and soak into the other parts of the sock. Don’t forget: green + yellow + red = brown.

9 Leave the socks in the bag for at least 12 hours. Rinse under cold water, then take the bands off and hang up to dry. Wash in the washing machine at 30°c then allow to dry.

The dye may run a little the first time you wash your carnival socks, so don’t wash them with anything white. After that the colours will be fixed and they are ready for the road!

Find more colourful tie-dye projects in Tie & Dye by Lizzie King, out now.