Parades and fireworks are hard to beat, but this kid-pleasing tie-dye project might come in a close third on the Fourth. Plain white fabric (either store-bought or recycled from old sheets) becomes patriotic bunting once it's tied strategically and dyed red and blue. Trimmed with ribbon and draped along a railing, fence, or wall, it's a one-of-a-kind way to flaunt your family's spirit. Dye a matching tablecloth too -- then use your creations for summers to come.
Prewash the fabric. Wring it out well, but don't dry it. Tear the fabric in half lengthwise, creating two 22 1/2- by 108-inch pieces.
Accordion-fold the fabric lengthwise into folds about 2 inches wide. On each piece, place rubber bands 6 inches and 2 inches in from the ends, as shown.
Wearing the gloves, mix the dye according to the package directions. Lay the fabric pieces with the folds facing up on a protected work surface.
To keep the middle sections white, slide a plastic bottle under the center of each fabric piece to prevent dye seepage. Apply the red dye to one end and the blue to the other end of each piece. Next, turn the fabric over so the opposite folds face up, then apply more red and blue dye to the ends. Let them sit as indicated on the package directions.
Rinse your gloves, then rinse the fabric in cold water, holding each piece by the central white area and keeping the dyed ends apart. Press out the excess water and rinse again. Repeat until the rinse water is clearer, then press out the excess water one more time.
Set the fabric on a clean protected surface. Cut off the rubber bands, then unfurl the bunting slightly and let it dry. (Once they're halfway dry, you can speed things up by hanging them on a line, but don't let the dyed areas touch the white ones).
For a liner to protect your house in case of rain, cut the plastic tablecloth in half lengthwise. Lay the pieces flat, then center the dry bunting on top so that the plastic shows along the top and bottom edges. Apply strips of the tape between the layers. Trim the tablecloth to leave just an inch visible along the top and bottom edges of the bunting.