Tie-dye tissue wrapping paper

Tie-dye tissue wrapping paper

As promised, Melissa’s instructions for creating gorgeous tie-dye wrapping paper out of plain white tissue. This looks easy enough for young toddlers, and the results are stunning. Thank you, Melissa!

Items needed:

  • Tissue paper. Purchase at the Dollar Store or Costco. I got 400 sheets at Costco for about $5 though it is a seasonal item there.
  • Food coloring. While you can do it with the little 4 oz bottles you buy at the supermarket, it can run a bit expensive if you are doing a lot of paper. I buy 16 oz. bottles at a restaurant supply store. They are about $8/bottle but it will last for a long time. I usually buy the four main colors: blue, red, green, and eggshell yellow. You can, of course, combine colors to make orange and purple. It’s a bit of guesswork so add dark colors to light colors slowly. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and trust that it will turn out beautifully.
  • Empty plastic containers or bowls for the dye. Salsa containers work well. Use a larger bowl for water.
  • Lots of newspaper


1) Fold the tissue into an easy-to-dip shape, about fist-sized or smaller. Get creative, but don’t make it too complicated or it will be difficult to unfold. We usually end up with a lot of rectangles and triangles. TIP: fold two or even three sheets at a time if you are trying to do a lot in one session. This is also useful if you know you have some big items to wrap as one sheet may not cover it.

2) Dip your folded tissue into water first. This is critical for spreading the dye, for maximizing the number of colors you will get (as it spreads it thins so you may end up with different shades of blue for example), and for not using up all your food coloring at once. Be careful of dipping something in a dark color and then right into a light color or you’ll contaminate it. TIP: white is also a nice color! Don’t be afraid to leave some white. If your folded paper is very thick you may end up with white in the middle anyway as it may be hard for the color to penetrate all the way through.

At this point the folded sheets will look dark and not very appealing. Don’t worry! You will be amazed at how they turn out when unfolded. Something that looked black and nasty turns out to have beautiful colors and patterns when dry.

3) Set aside to dry. Depending on the temperature and air flow in your home it may take a day or two. As it dries you can begin to unfold it (to speed up drying) but be careful – damp paper rips easily!

4) Once it is completely dry and opened, iron the paper with a dry iron on a low setting (I use 3 or 3 1/2 out of a 10 setting iron).

Details learned over the years:

  • When you wrap be sure to use a white sheet first as even the dyed paper is a bit transparent.
  • Use newspaper to blot excess water. Be careful though (and gentle) as this presses edges together and can cause them to stick, making it very difficult to open the very edge without tearing.
  • Use folded sheets as a blotter for other dyed sheets. That is, when you dip one in the dye, place it inside an undyed one and press. Some of my nicest sheets have been blotter paper for other sheets.
  • When the sheets are still damp but you can unfold them, try stacking them. They will bleed through and you can get beautiful spots and stripes.
  • When you are completely done, roll all the sheets around a cardboard tube for storage. If it gets a little wrinkled before you use it feel free to run an iron over it again.

Here are some photos of our recent work (before ironing — they look so much better after!). Feel free to email me for more information! katzmoye [at] gmail [dot] com


  1. anon says

    You left out a step. When do you actually dip it in colored water? You didn’t mention that. How do you handle the different colors, do you refold it or what?

  2. says

    No steps left out. :-)

    You dunk the whole thing (the folded tissue) in water, then you dip it in the food coloring. The water enables the color to spread, keeps it light in color (though it won’t look light until you unfold it), and ensures that you don’t use up all your food coloring in 3 dunks. :-)

    Dipping it directly in food coloring without the water will soak up too much color and make it very very dark.

  3. says

    Melissa, thanks for the great turorial! I’m afraid I may be a bit daft — when you dip the entire hunk of folded paper into the water and then food coloring, how do you wind up with lots of colors on one paper? Sorry if that’s a remedial question… I wish I were crafty, but I’m just really not.

  4. says

    Thanks Tiffany!

    @Holly – once your folded paper is wet you can just dip a corner here and a side there into different colors. ;-) To get that hard to reach chunk in the middle you can bend the folded paper and dip but to get the same color you’ll have to bend it one way, dip, then bend it the other way to get the other side.

    Alternatively, you can dip half of the folded paper in one color like yellow, then dip the edge in blue, creating green (but still maintaining the yellow further in).

    I hope that makes sense – it’s hard to explain in text but I think once you start doing it you’ll see how easy it is. Really I almost never do more than two or three colors. Sometimes when I have a square I’ll dip each corner into a color.

    One year my mom played around with an eye dropper but it’s hard to make it go all the way through. Not that it doesn’t turn out really cool, but you don’t get the same symmetry you do with color that penetrates all sides.

    But what’s really amazing is how many colors you get once the colors have spread and dried. You get all ranges of one shade so it looks like you’ve done a dozen different colors. I believe the sheet in the photo at the top of this post was done using only 3 or 4 main colors.


  5. lizard says

    grat idea!my friends and i are complet hippies and i loved giving this to my friends for there birthdays,they loved it so much they kept it and the prestent inside.