Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How To Create Awesome Tie Dye T-Shirts

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy arts & crafts outdoors. There's nothing better than to be 
outside on a beautiful sunny day, making something creative while at the same time 
keeping the mess out of the house! My boyfriend Duane is a tie dye pro, so when he 
suggested we get some supplies and plan a day to make our own tie dyed shirts, I couldn't 
have been more thrilled. Yay! Sunshine and art and kids and fun!

Collecting our supplies...
First we looked at thrift stores for t-shirts and other things that we might want to dye. I was 
looking for a white cotton Boho style skirt. I didn't find one there, but I did find a 
Philadelphia Phillies t-shirt for $1. Score! Next we bought a few 100 percent cotton t-shirts 
at our local crafts shop for around $3 each, and a few white cotton bandannas.  
I also found a lace-edged tank top and a nice silky v-neck top at Target that 
I added to my "to-dye" stash, so I would have a little variety in my styles of tie dyed shirts. 

For dyes, we bought a multi-pack that contained 12 plastic bottles that already had the dyes
in powdered form inside of each bottle. Since there were going to be five of us making 
shirts (us along with our kids), we figured the big set with 12 colors was the way to go. The 
dye kit contained 12 plastic bottles with one color of powdered dye already in each bottle, so 
all we had to do was add water to the bottles and shake them up. The kit came with 
plastic table cover, but you can use any kind of plastic drop cloth or old plastic tablecloth 
to protect your work space. The kit also contained a few pairs of plastic gloves, rubber bands 
to "tie" our shirts up with, and some general instructions for how to prepare the dyes and 
make a few different designs. We purchased a box of soda ash mix separately (in the craft 
store where the tie dyes are located) and used our own plastic bucket to mix that up 
according to the package directions. The first thing we did before we started was soak all of 
our t-shirts in the soda ash and water mix for 20 minutes. The soda ash helps the dye 
adhere to the shirt better and is supposed to help the dyes stay nice and bright. Check it out! 

 Soaking our shirts in soda ash and water - we had a lot of shirts and they soaked up all
of the water! We actually had to use two separate buckets. Next time if we again dye
a lot of shirts, we will have to use two boxes of soda ash.

Our work surface, an outdoor table covered with a plastic table cover, gloves,
and our directions.

Each bottle contained powdered dye in a squirt bottle. All we had to do was measure water 
and add it to each dye bottle, and then shake them up until all of the dyes were dissolved. 

Duane shows how two spiral designs are created. He pinched the material in two places
with his thumbs and index fingers, and then twisted the material...

...and kept twisting until the material by turning his fingers until the material was all  bunched up...

...and then he secured it or "tied" it, with rubber bands to keep the material bunched up.

Next comes the dye! You just squeeze it from the squirt bottle onto the fabric, saturating
the fabric. Once we had the dyes on, we set them aside on the grass for a couple of hours
so that the dye could soak into the fabric and really permeate it. If you look closely at this
photo you can see how his two spirals look like circles.  You apply the dye in a wedge shape
or in a line through the perimeter of the spirals or "circles" to achieve the finished spiral tie 
dye design (see below).

The end result!

To do a striped dye design with vertical or horizontal stripes, this bandanna was 
folded lengthwise in an accordion or fan fold technique...

...and then she applied her chosen dye colors, one next to the other. Don't forget to wear gloves! 

The end result

This shirt was made with same pattern technique.

Sorry for the blurry photo! This random dot shirt turned out great! To make this,
she just applied random drops of dye to the shirt and then laid it flat - no tying!

After a sitting for a while, the dye spreads out and blossoms.

The end result! 

Deciding what colors to choose...there are so many possible combinations!

A t-shirt twisted into a spiral, ready to be tied with rubber bands and dyed!

Tying the t-shirt up with rubber bands before applying dyes. You don't have to tie the shirts
with rubber bands, but they will help the shirt to keep its shape. 

Duane's shirt...he used green and blue and applied them in a wedge shape,
 and then added a little yellow and just a couple drops of purple...wait till you see this one...

Awesome! To create this design, he twisted one spiral, beginning in the center
of the shirt.

We laid our shirts on the grass to give the dye some time to seep in and works its magic
After an hour or two, we removed the rubber bands, opened up the shirts, and then laid
 them all out on the grass for another hour or two before we rinsed them out.

I really wanted him to dye one of my shirts for me, so he did this one for me...

He twisted two spirals into this shirt...


Here are a few more of our creations...

He made this one by spreading the shirt out flat, but instead of creating one spiral on the front of the shirt, the shirt is instead laid out sideways so that one side/sleeve/armpit of the shirt is facing the table and the opposite side is facing up.

After a few hours we rinsed each shirt out very well with a hose until all of the
dye was rinsed out and the water ran clear. Now our shirts are ready to wash and wear! 

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What do you think?

I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns


  1. This brings back so many fun memories from my younger years. I now know how to do all those fun designs with the kids!! Thank-you! Your shirts all turned out fantastic!

  2. Looks like you had fun and you got some one of a kind clothing. Total blast from my past...

  3. YESSSS. I love tie dye. These came out great. Thanks for the soda ash tip.

  4. This a great idea for a summer activity!!!! I wanna do it now!!!!!

  5. This is so amazing! Thanks for sharing:)

  6. How interesting. I've never tried it, but it looks like great fun.

  7. I tried doing red white blue for the 4th but all the red soaked into the white for red pink and blue. How do I keep the red from going into the white when rinsing?