Easy Tie-Dye Techniques For The Whole Family
Tie-dye never goes out of style. That’s good news for parents, because tie-dying is an easy and fun activity for kids of all ages. It doesn’t have to be just t-shirts – tablecloths, towels and even bed sheets work, too. All you’ll need is some budget-friendly materials and a small outdoor area to get your groove on!
Materials you need to tie-dye
Before you get started, round up your tie-dye supplies:
- White, 100% cotton t-shirt (or other cotton item of your choice)
- Fabric dye like RIT or a purchased tie-dye kit
- 5-6 squirt bottles (if you didn’t buy the tie-dye kit)
- Spray bottle
- Gallon-size zip-bags
- Rubber bands
- Rubber gloves
- Rags or paper towels for clean-up
How the tie-dye process works
1. Get set up
If your cotton item is brand new, wash and dry it first. Don’t use fabric softener as it will repel the ink.
2. Cover up
Cover your outdoor workspace with a plastic tablecloth or newspapers and have everyone wear smocks.
3. Prep the dye
If you bought a tie-dye kit, set up the inks in bottles according to the instructions. If you’re using liquid or powder dye, prep it according to instructions and then pour the ink into squirt bottles. Add salt to each of the ink bottles, as salt will make the color more vibrant.
4. Dampen your fabric
Spray the item you want to tie-dye with water to get it damp but not soaking wet. Follow one of the pattern instructions below, or make your own pattern by twisting the fabric and wrapping it in rubber bands to secure.
5. Time to get groovy
Squeeze on the ink, following the tie-dye instructions or just freestyling it! Once you’re done, put each dyed piece of fabric in a sealed gallon-size bag for 24 hours to let everything set.
6. Rinse it out
When the 24 hours are up, put on gloves and take the fabric out of the bag. Without removing the rubber bands, rinse it out good in cold water until it runs clear. Take off the rubber bands and rinse once more. Wash and dry the fabric on the hottest setting indicated on the manufacturer’s tag.
Easy tie-dye techniques for everyone
Pull the fabric up in the center of the cotton item and twist/wrap it in one direction until it looks like a flattened rose. Wrap 4-6 rubber bands in a crisscross overlapping pattern, which will make distinct wedges of fabric. Wearing gloves, squirt different dye colors onto each wedge on both the front and back of the fabric.
The Striped Pattern
Starting with the bottom of your fabric, fold the item into small pleats until it’s long and thin. Wrap 6-8 rubber bands evenly across the thin, long fabric piece. Wearing gloves, dye each section between the rubber bands a different color. Be sure the dye saturates through each pleat layer, front and back.
Circle or Bulls-Eye Pattern
Select the areas on the fabric where you want the 3-4 circle or bull’s-eyes to go. In each area, pull up a small bit of the fabric. Twist and pinch it up with your fingers, then wrap with a rubber band at the base so the fabric sticks up. Squeeze that piece of rubber-banded fabric with the color you want the circles to be. Finish by squirting dye on the rest of the item using whatever colors you’d like it to be, steering clear of the circle dye areas. Make sure it’s saturated with dye all the way through.
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