Tie-Dye T-Shirts Take One

Tie-Dye T-Shirts Take One

This is a project we tried last summer and was originally post on July 3, 2009 at Nature’s Way Learning. It was a good first attempt and is definitely something I want to re-visit again this summer. This time I will be limiting our colors to only primary colors so they blend nicer (our orange and blue last year turned brown and purple with the kids over zealous dipping). I will also be purchasing some squirt bottles to give us more control over the dyes. I will post again when we make our second attempt.

This is a project I have wanted to do with the kids for awhile now… a great summer project. My nephew’s birthday was last week and we will be seeing his family for the first time in a long time at a wedding next week. The kids have already picked out a gift for their cousin but I wanted to give him something homemade too… something the kids could make for him. Sooo… Bug and I decide that the t-shirts would be cool.

This was our first attempt but the kids have already been asking to do it again. I’m sure we will get better at it… of course the big mistake was on my part. I had too many colors to pick from for the first try. The kids wanted to use all the colors and like an Easter egg that has been dipped in every color (if you have ever dyed Easter eggs with a two year old I’m sure you know what I’m talking about) the shirts started to take on that mucky brown/purple color.


We started with washed but damp 100% cotton shirts, Dylon brand permanent dyes, salt, rubber bands and containers. The Dylon brand dyes are reactive with salt and warm tap water (safer for the kids with no boiling water… of course don’t eat it or get it in your eyes). You will probably want gloves… but I didn’t have any. I think I need a manicure before the wedding ;). The kids were dressed in their swim suits and old t-shirts.

Then off course comes the tying part. Bug was able to do this part on his own but the girls needed help. They would pinch off the fabric they wanted tyed and I put the rubber band on for them.

After the shirts were tied I prepared the dyes. I followed the directions on the packet, which included I believe (I didn’t save a packet to look at) 4 TB of salt, 4 cups warm water and the dye. A quick dip was enough to get light colors. Had we only used one color… thorough soaking would have led to much brighter colors. The dye colors mix like they should… red and blue will make purple.

Then we rinsed the shirts until the water ran clear (I actually did this part… the kids held the hose for me).


It was very exciting when we took the rubber bands off. Of course the kids didn’t totally understand what was supposed to happen and they eagerly awaited each shirts unveiling. I rinsed them again and then hung them to dry in the shade.


Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art


  1. It was very smart making this an outside activity. Our first and only attempt was inside and the dyes stained my counters and a rag rug 🙁 We will definitely give it another try, OUTSIDE this time. Love your blog.

  2. We love tie dying around here. We even got these really cheap underware at a flea market and we tie dyed them! I’ve tie dyed inside and outside, outside is definitely the way to go. Looking forward to seeing this summer’s project.

  3. This has been on my list to do with the kids all summer and I just wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. I will definetly be trying this during the holiday. My friend does the reverse of tie dying. She buys a coloured tee shirt, ties lots of knots and bleaches it. This tends to give lots of different shades of a colour. I shall be trying both this summer. Thanks for the idea.

  5. Wow, the t-shirts turned out amazing!! Can you give it another try in October when I visit?? Would love to share a day with you and the kids tie dying!!!! Love, Aunt MB 🙂

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