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I am so excited that tie-dye is coming back in fashion. I love bright colors, so for me the more colors the better for my tie-dye t-shirts. And tie-dye is even more fun to wear when you make the t-shirt yourself!

We had so much fun with this activity that my kids immediately told me they wanted to do it again. They wanted to try again using different colors and styles to tie-dye. We made this as simple as possible by using a tie-dye kit. Below I share the steps we took to make our new favorite t-shirts.

MATERIALS:

PROCEDURE:

1. Wash and dry the white t-shirts.

2. Protect your table with a table covering (included if you get a tie-dye kit). Also, be sure to wear clothes that you won’t mind getting stained and wear gloves to protect your hands from getting stained (gloves are also included in our kit).

3. Open the tie-dye kit and select colors you want to use to tie-dye. Fill these squirt bottles with water all the way to the top, tightly close the lid, and then shake until dye is dissolved.

4. Tie your shirts depending on the tie-dye look you are going for. We tried 2 methods: bullseye and spiral. Below are instructions for each method. We also tried using wet shirts for the first round and dry shirts on the second round. I didn’t see any noticeable difference between using wet shirts vs. using dry t-shirts. I’d say if don’t want to dry your t-shirts, then you can pull them straight from the washer and use them wet.

Bullseye method: Lay the t-shirt flat on a table. Grab the center of the shirt in one hand and place the first rubber band a few inches down. Twist the remainder of the shirt then add a second rubber band a few more inches down. Repeat until you get to the bottom of the shirt, or depending on how many resist/color sections you want. My son only wanted two colors so he used one rubber band. I wanted rainbow colored bullseye, so I used 6 rubber bands and 7 different colors.

Start by grabbing the center and placing the first rubber band
This is the bullseye with one rubber band and two color sections
This is the bullseye with 7 color sections and 6 rubber bands

Spiral method: Lay the t-shirt flat on a table. Pinch the center of the shirt, and begin to spin the shirt around the center point (see picture below). Keep spinning until it resembles a circle and the entire shirt is wrapped around the center. Place 3-4 rubber bands criss-crossing to hold the spiral together.

5. Squirt dye into each rubber band section. Make sure your color goes all the way through to the back of the shirt (you may need to flip it over and apply color to the backside, but make sure you’re using the same colors in each section as on the front).

6. Wrap the dyed shirts in cling wrap and set aside for 12 to 36 hours.

7. Remove the cling wrap and rubber bands, then rinse the t-shirt until the water runs clear (this could take up to 5 minutes of rinsing and squeezing to get all the extra color out). Our shirts were their most vibrant when they were wet after the first rinse.

My son’s two color bullseye
My daughter’s two-color spiral
My rainbow spiral

8. Dry your t-shirt, and then your tie-dyed t-shirt is ready to be worn!

Note: We have washed and dried our tie-dyed t-shirts on regular wash cycles several times since we made them. The color does fade from its original vibrance (compare pictures in step 7 to picture of same shirts in step 8), but we think they still look great.

STEAM CONCEPTS LEARNED:

  • Science: Kids learn about resist and dyes. They learn that the rubber band protects the material underneath it from getting dyed. This is called resist. They also learn that fabric is colored because a chemical reaction takes place between the dye and the cotton shirt. During this reaction the dye bonds with the shirt and becomes part of the cotton.
  • Art: Kids are learning about colors. You can use just primary colors and still create a rainbow colored shirt by overlapping the primary colors to make secondary colors. They are also learning that patterns can be created on t-shirts using folds and twists in the fabric before dying it.
My kids are wearing their rainbow spiral t-shirts and I’m wearing my rainbow bullseye t-shirt.

We had so much fun making tie-dye shirts, and I’m sure we will be making more. We still have several colors in the kit we haven’t used yet, so there will be more tie-dying for us in upcoming months.

If you love the tie-dye trend as much as we do I highly recommend trying this with your kids. They will enjoy helping with the squirting the dye onto the shirts, and they will be so proud to wear the beautiful and colorful shirts they make themselves!

Have you tie-dyed before? What is your favorite tie-dye method?

This is the Tulip Tie-Dye kit we used:

These are the kid’s white t-shirts we used:

This is the women’s white t-shirt I used:

Disclosure

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