When I think back to my summers growing up, one of the first things that come to mind is tie-dyeing.
Our mom would fill buckets up with RIT dye and water and away we dunked! Sure it was messy, but the anticipation of the outcome was well worth the mess. At least it was for us…for June, I can’t be sure. lol.
To tie-dye is synonymous with summer. It brings back old school summertime vibes and offers a wonderful creative outlet.
Setting up the vibe while tie-dyeing can be important. A tie-dye Spotify playlist is the perfect addition to your tie-dye adventure. Check out my Tie-Dye Playlist for some inspiration.
Below is a step-by-step process on how to tie-dye a t-shirt to get you started. Just be forewarned, once you start you may not be able to stop. Before you know it, your sheets may be tie-dyed!
Dye / I am loving the Tulip brand tie-dye sets! So many options to choose from.
A paint bucket or some sort of plastic bin
Cookie cooling rack
Bowl of water
Plastic baggies/plastic shopping bags
Tip: If you purchase a tie-dye kit, many come with gloves and rubberbands.
Two techniques that are easy and fun!
Just like it sounds. You can create the bullseye so that it is featured in the center of the shirt or you can offset the center to start at the corner of the shirt. Or, anywhere your heart desires for that matter!
I LOVE the spiral technique. It’s way easier than it looks and creates such spectacular color schemes. This is my go-to.
Step 1: Set up your space to best suit your creating needs. I like to lay everything out so it’s easily accessible and ready for when you need it. There’s nothing worse than needing something while having dye all over your hands and gloves. The more prepared, the less mess.
It’s important in this first step to have all of your dye ready to use (follow instructions per your kit), a bowl of water filled, and your paint bucket with a cookie cooling rack on top of it all set up for you. It’s not a terrible idea to also have a plastic garbage bag placed under the bucket to catch any rogue dye.
Step 2: Decide your tie-dye technique; spiral or bullseye.
Once you decide which technique you are going with, you need to decide if you want to soak your shirt before or after you rubberband.
Soaking before can cause the dye to intermingle a bit more due to the water. Soaking after you rubber band may offer a bit more precision within tie-dye when it comes to where you place your rubber band.
If you choose to soak before, go ahead and soak now. In the event, you want to soak after you place the rubber bands around your shirt, go directly to Step 3*.
Step 3: Rubber band your t-shirt.
Bullseye (R): Choose wherever you want to bullseye to be. Technically, it can go anywhere! For educational purposes, let’s say you want it smack dab in the middle of your shirt.
Lay your t-shirt flat on the ground. Pinch the center of your shirt with your thumb and index finger, being sure that you snagged both the front and the back of your shirt.
Take a rubber band and place it near the top of the pinched area of your shirt. Proceed to add rubber bands all the way down – as many or as few as you desire.
Spiral (L): Choose where you would like for your spiral to begin. Like the bullseye, it can begin anywhere, but for educational purposes, let’s have the spiral begin in the middle of your shirt.
Lay your t-shirt flat on the ground. Using your thumb, index, and middle finger (you can also use a fork) – pinch the center of your fabric together, making sure you’re squeezing both the front and the back of your shirt together.
Begin to spin and twist the shirt going clockwise until all of the fabric has spiraled together. It’ll resemble a rose.
Using both hands, or the help of a tie-dye partner, wrap a rubber band around the t-shirt through the center of the spiral. Take another rubber band and wrap it across the first rubber band. You can stop at two rubber bands or continue to add more. Tuck extra t-shirt fabric into the rubber bands along the way. It will end up looking like a spiral pie.
*If you chose to wait to soak your shirt until after you placed the rubber bands around it, now it’s time to soak. Squeeze out excess water after soaking.
Step 4: Place your t-shirt on top of the cooling rack which is placed on top of the paint bucket.
Step 5: It’s time to put on your gloves. Once the gloves are on, choose the colors you want to dye your shirt with.
Tip: Use an old towel to experiment with color combinations as well as wipe your gloved hands with. This will help you not get unwanted dye on your shirt or yourself.
Step 6: Once you have your colors sorted out, it’s time to TIE-DYE!!!! Get after it and have fun! You can use as many or as little colors as you want. When it comes to tie-dyeing, anything goes.
After you have completed one side, wipe your gloved hands with your towel, then turn it over and dye the other side. I often stick with the same colors on each side, but you do you!
Step 7: After you have applied all the dye you want to your t-shirt, with gloved hands, gently place your creation in a plastic bag or baggie. Get out as much air as you can and seal it up.
Step 8: Let sit in a safe space (I put them in my garage) for 18-24 hours for the dye to set in.
Step 9: At this point, your tie-dye has been sitting for almost a day! Be sure to have a drying rack placed on top of a plastic garbage bag. Once that is ready to be used, using gloves, remove your creation from the plastic bag, careful not to get dye on you or your space. Use scissors to carefully snap the rubber bands off from around your shirt, careful not to nic it.
Step 10: Rinse your tie-dye shirt. Whether it’s in the tub or outside with a hose, rinse your t-shirt to remove any excess dye. Rinse until the water runs clear.
Step 11: Place your tie-dye shirt on a drying rack and hang to dry. Be sure to have a plastic garbage bag under your rack to catch any dripping dye.
Tip: Choose where you hang dry wisely. The sun will fad your shirt if left out under the rays for too long.
Step 12: Wear your tie-dye!!!! Your t-shirt is bound to bring you so much joy and joy to others! Share the love and share this post if others want in on the fun!
Laundering your tie-dye: Follow the directions based on the dye you use and depending on the kind of fabric you dyed.
There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.
Go beyond t-shirts and tie-dye some canvas pouches! Makes for a great clutch or gift!
Dawn soap does a pretty good job of getting dye off of hands and feet. Otherwise, it’ll take a couple days for it to fade away.
I can’t emphasize this enough…use gloves! And don’t tie-dye right after getting a manicure.
Use old white rags to help keep the area somewhat clean and to test color patterns.
Have paper towels and garbage bags on hand.
If you want your colors to bleed together a bit, very gently apply pressure to your shirt, specifically on the color you want to push into another color.
Here is some inspiration to get you started.
As you can see, all but one, are spiral. It’s my favorite technique so far.