Tie Dye is fun and easy project you can do at home with your family. The supplies are inexpensive and you can tie die just about anything. We’ve done sweatshirts, sweaters, sheets, pillow cases, canvas bags, anything fabric. We have even revitalized some of our favorite clothing items that had stains on them by tie dying them to hide the stains. It’s a bit of a process but so worth it in the end.
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- Soda Ash
- Bucket or Tub – anything that will hold the items you want to tie dye
- Water (we used the hose outside)
- Tie Dye– These are the two packages that we purchased which provided all the colors we wanted. My grandchildren tie dye frequently so it never goes to waste. All you need to do is add water! Tulip One Step Tie Dye Kit Super big 12 Colors
Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit Kaleidoscope 12 Colors
- Rubber Gloves–a must this stuff stains
- ZipLoc type bags–large enough to hold each item separately so the dyes don’t transfer
- Rubber Bands–necessary to create the designs
- Plastic Drop Cloths
Here is a resource for the T-shirts and tank tops we purchased for our family. Most of these are pkgs of multiples of the same size.
Preparing the Soda Ash
The first step is to mix soda ash with water in a tub large enough to soak your items in. Soda Ash allows the dye to better penetrate the fabric and make the colors stay vibrant. Follow the directions on the package!
We used a large bucket and put multiple pieces in at once, stirring them around occasionally to be sure they were completely soaked. Then we (using gloves) squeezed out excess water. They’re now ready to prep for dye!
**Note Soda ash fixer will pretty much kill anything growing in your yard so be sure to dump it somewhere that there are not plants or grass. Hose it down well afterward.
Mixing the Tie Dye
**Cover the surface of your table with a drop cloth. We made the mistake of putting the wet clothing items directly onto the picnic table–Big Mistake–it left marks on the table!
Each package of tie dye has containers pre-filled with powdered dye with caps that are coordinated with the color of the dye inside. Simply unscrew the cap, fill with water, replace the cap and shake it up.
Emilie (my granddaughter in the photo above) likes to write the name of the dye on the bottle with a sharpie! Remember this is two packages of tie dye .
Creating the Design
You can make a ton of different designs or simply do a random one! To create specific design you simple follow the instructions on the detailed design instructions included with the dye. Or, be creative and make your own designs. The sky’s the limit! Here are a few of the ways you can create designs using rubber bands. Remember your items should still be wet.
I want to point out that the round bundles above are adult t-shirts and the bottom is a child sized tank top. The top bundles were created by spreading out the shirt and using a fork in the very center (tines down on the shirt) and then twirling the shirt like spaghetti and then secured in place with rubber bands. There are directions in the tie dye package so I didn’t elaborate here.
Applying the Dye
Now for the fun part. Creating the design. As you can see, we had a lot of items to dye–nearly 30 pieces. Most of them were new t-shirts and tanks, but we also did a pair of pants, a few sweatshirts, a white lace top that had a stain on it and a few other already worn items that needed a little something. Tie Dye is a great way to revive some of your favorite older pieces that are looking a little faded, worn or have a stain that won’t come out in the wash!
Here is a shot of Emilie applying dye in a random pattern to shirts. You can also follow the instructional diagrams that come in the tie-dye package to get specific patterns. She randomly squirted her chosen color combinations on the shirts. It’s messy so be careful. The dye does rinse out of the grass (or in my case carefully cultivated weeds). It does not, however, come off skin well. I was so involved in the process and walking around “barefoot” taking photos that I forgot that dye was on some the grassy areas where we hadn’t placed a drop cloth. I won’t even tell you how colorful the bottoms of my feet were!!!!!
Once we applied the dye we placed each item into a SEPARATE ziploc bag and let them sit overnight. I suppose you could rinse them now, but we wanted to be sure to have vibrant color. I didn’t get a photo of this step because rain was coming and we wanted to get moving quickly. We threw all the bagged items into a bucket and waited till the next day to rinse.
Rinse, Wring, Repeat–over and over
This is probably the most time consuming part of the process but also the most exciting. Remove your pieces from the bags and take off the rubber bands. Lay out your projects on the ground and with a hose rinse thoroughly, wring out, and repeat until no more dye comes out of the item. You are going to have to do this multiple times. Then hang to dry. Once dried we usually run them through a rinse in the washer and either air dry or toss in the dryer.
Here are some photos of finished tie dyes:
I’d like to introduce you to my beautiful, smart, talented granddaughter Emilie who worked with me on this post! It’s such a joy to have another crafter/creator in the family. She is a talented artist and crafter herself! Thanks Emmy!
Hope you enjoyed this post! Leave any questions in the comments below!