Arts and Crafts

Summer 2016: Tie Dye

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It’s summer vacation, and I’m trying to find something “big” to do with my kids on a weekly basis. Either I’ll pack us up into the car and drive to the Children’s Museum of Richmond (one of their locations has a splash pad, which has made the hour drive totally worth it!) or I’ve tried to do a project with them. Our latest project was to make tie dye t-shirts.Summer Project: Tie Dye t-shirts via

I’d only ever tie dyed once. It was summer vacation when I was about 8 or 9 and my mom bought tie dye strings (kind of like this kit). It was pretty mess-free; however, the shirts didn’t turn out super bright. In fact, I wasn’t a fan of mine because it mostly looked like a pink and brown mess.

I had seen multiple tie-dye kits in the craft stores, and G’s preschool class actually dyed shirts for St. Patrick’s Day (it’s one of his favorite shirts now). He said he had fun doing it, so I thought it would be a neat project to do with the boys one no-so-hot morning.

I came across a 20% off your total purchase coupon for a local craft store one Sunday and as it happened, we decided to go out to dinner near the store that evening. I convinced Mr Boots to take a trip to the craft store so I could buy shirts and a kit.

There were several kits to choose from, but I decided to try the N Color kit. Tulip was another popular brand.

Before we dyed them, I washed the shirts and then G and I prepped them the night before. I wanted to try different designs, so Pinterest was my go-to for directions on how to wrap my shirts:

The first thing I did was set up our dying station. Mr Boots had made a small fire pit for the hell of it a few months ago and I decided this would be a good place to put the bucket which would catch the extra dye that didn’t make it onto the shirts. I put a wire rack on top of that so the shirts would have a flat place to lay on.

Then it was time to make the dye. The kit came with bottles that had dyed powder in them, so all I had to do was fill them with water. The boys so badly wanted to help with this task, but I knew it was going to be messy and I didn’t want my kitchen dyed.Tie Dye Projects via

The gloves in the kit were too big for the boys, and they were a bit cumbersome for me. And besides, have you witnessed a four year old with a squirt bottle of anything? No matter how many times I told G to keep the tip of the bottle close to the shirt, he shook it around and my legs got pretty colorful.  Towards the end of our project, I said “eff it” and embraced the messy. I still have a bit of dye on a thumb nail that hasn’t come off (it’s been about two weeks), but it’s hardly noticeable. It took a few showers and good scrubs to get the dye off my hands and legs.

Tie Dye on a white shirt via

Once the shirts were dyed, wrapped them in plastic and let them set. The directions said to leave them alone for 6-8 hours, but I read several posts on Pinterest that suggested leaving them alone overnight for maximum results. I think our shirts sat in our laundry closet for about 14 hours.
Tie Dye Project via

The most laborious part for me was running the shirts through cold water and wringing them out until the water ran clear. This wasn’t too bad with the toddler/youth size shirts, but mine seemed to take forever! Once I felt I did a good enough job all the shirts went into the washer for a quick wash. Then we took them outside for a photo op.
Tie Dye Project Complete via

We thought they turned out pretty well! Unfortunately, I ruined my watermelon shirt by attempting to cut it into a work-out tank (I should have gone with a bigger sized shirt for that project). I guess I have an excuse to dye some more now!

Materials Used

  • White t-shirts (I bought ours at the craft store, but I think next time I’ll buy some Hanes undershirts since they’re softer and tagless)
  • Tie Dye kit
  • Clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Plastic/Rubber gloves (I didn’t think the kit came with enough)
  • Bucket or tub to catch drips
  • Wire cooling rack

Have you made tie dye shirts (or anything!) with your kids before? What tips do you have?


10 thoughts on “Summer 2016: Tie Dye

  1. These came out looking so nice! I love the colors you guys went with. Looks like your little ones had a great time making them, too! Nice work! Thanks for pointers!

  2. Your description of saying “eff it” and “embracing the messy” is quite hilarious. It’s nice that you enjoyed the outcome, despite the mishap with the watermelon t-shirt.

  3. How much fun! My daughter just made a tie dye shirt at a beach camp class and loved it! I have been tempted to try one of the tie dye kits I have seen in Hobby Lobby/Micheals. Thank you for sharing! I will have to look into making a few tie dye shirts at home 🙂

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