How to Tie Dye Shirts

Before I tried this project, I had no idea how to tie dye shirts. My boys LOVE the look of tie dye, so I decided to make them their own custom shirts.

How to Tie Dye

I tell you that this was my first attempt in order to build your confidence... learning how to make tie dyed shirts is much easier than it looks!

How to Make Tie Dye Shirts

How to Tie Dye: Items You'll Need:

  • White shirt (prewashed)
  • Rubber bands
  • Tie dye powder
  • Small plastic bottle(s)
  • Soda ash
  • Sink or bucket
  • Water
  • Plastic wrap or bags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Scissors

Directions on How to Tie Dye Shirts:

1. Prewash shirt or item to be tie dyed. If you'll be doing the project right away, don't worry about dryig it. However, if you aren't going to do it right away, dry it in the dryer without the use of a dryer sheet.

2. Create the design you want by bunching the shirt. If you want a:

  • Random Pattern- gather cloth together and shape into a ball. Wrap several rubber bands around it in a haphazard fashion, take care to retain the round shape. How to Tie Dye Shirts

    How to Make a Tie Dye Shirt

  • Spiral Pattern- Lay fabric flat, select a center point and twist clockwise to make a tight bundle...bind with rubber bands, making six or more pie shaped wedges.

How to Tie Die

How to Tie Die a Shirt

3. After you've bunched your shirt and put the rubber bands around it, soak it in soda ash (available at craft stores) dissolved in water for at least 20 minutes. The amount of water will depend on the amount of soda ash you add (check your specific brand directions).

How to Tie Dye a Shirt

4. While the shirts soak, mix the dye (also available at craft stores) in small plastic applicator bottles while wearing your rubber gloves. Remember that you can mix just a few colors and combine them to make other colors. For example, if you buy just red, yellow, and blue, you can use them to make:

  • Red + Yellow = Orange
  • Blue + Yellow = Green
  • Blue + Red = Purple
You can mix these separately, or just put them over the other color while applying it to the shirt. So, if I put yellow on the shirt, you can turn the area green by applying blue to the yellow area right away.

5. Prepare the area to dye your shirt on. I used a dark colored towel covered with plastic wrap. You could also use a large plastic shopping bag or trash bag, but I would still put a towel underneath to keep the area safe from accidental spills. Wring the shirt out and place it on the prepared area. DO NOT rinse the soda ash off of the shirt before applying the dye.

How to Dye Shirts

6. Do not remove the rubber bands before applying the dye to the shirt. Begin by first applying your chosen color along the rubber bands on both sides of the shirt. Fill in the other white areas, and gently move folds aside to color in the white areas (do not saturate the shirt to the point of forming puddles). To create a:

Random Pattern- apply the dye in a random pattern...spots, lines, or large areas of color.

Spiral Pattern- you can apply it in one of two ways (each will create a slightly different look):

  • Put a circle of color in the middle of the shirt (where the rubber bands intersect). Make a ring around that circle in another color. Continue this pattern until it reaches the edge of the circle (it should look like the rings of a tree). Turn the shirt over and do the same thing on the other side.
  • Fill in the "wedges" of the pie (between the rubber bands) with different colors.

How to Tie Dye a Shirt

7. Lightly cover the shirt with plastic wrap (or a plastic bag), and let it sit undisturbed for 24 hours. The fabric needs this time to bond with the color.

8. After 24 hours have passed, put on rubber gloves and rinse the tied bundle under warm, running tap water until it runs fairly clear. Carefully cut off rubber bands while rinsing.

9. Wash the garmet RIGHT AWAY. Fill the washer with warm water and liquid soap. Hang or machine dry after washing. After the shirt has been washed the first time, it can be washed with other clothes without a concern for color bleeding. Hope that you had fun learning how to tie dye your first shirt, and enjoy gifting your new creation!

How to Tie Dye

How to Tie Dye Shirts

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