Tie-dyed T-shirts

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Rainbow Tie-dyed T-shirts
Total Time afternoon or evening Ages school-age

Some fashions are so classic they never go out of style. Kids love to wear tie-dyed T-shirts almost as much as they love to make them. With these simple-to-follow instructions, you can make tie-dyed shirts in any color combination you can imagine.

Don't forget to look at our other great ideas in the T-shirt Crafts gallery.

What you'll need

  • Plastic tablecloth or garbage bags and tape
  • Large bowl of soapy water and paper towels
  • 100-percent-cotton T-shirts
  • Buckets or dish tubs (4-quart minimum)
  • 2 or more colors of fabric dye (see Tips below)
  • Salt (1 cup per dye bath)
  • Rubber bands and marbles and/or coins
  • Spray bottles and plastic squeeze bottles
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • Latex gloves

How to make it

  1. Tie-dyed T-shirts - Step 1

    To begin, choose one or more tie-dye techniques. Here are 3 that can be mixed and matched for far-out fabulous results:

    Marble Tie With Spray-bottle Dye

    Knotted Tie With Squirt-bottle Dye

    Twisted Tie With Dunking Dye

  2. Tie-dyed T-shirts - Step 2

    Set up a dyeing station

    Set it up outside if possible. Cover the work area with a disposable plastic tablecloth or a few garbage bags and tape your cover in place. Have a trash can and some paper towels nearby as well as a large bowl of soapy water for the kids to rinse their hands. Most importantly, keep some extra white T-shirts on hand to allow for mistakes or in case some grown-ups want to get in on the fun.

  3. Tie-dyed T-shirts - Step 3

    Prepare the Tees

    To make sure the shirts are fit to be tied, soak them in water first. They'll be much easier for the kids to work with. If the dyes come with soda ash, dissolve it in a tub of water. After the kids have tied their wet shirts, soak the shirts in the soda ash solution for 20 minutes. This helps the dye to bond with the fabric more easily. If the dyes didn't come with soda ash, you can purchase it separately at your local crafts store and soak the tees in it for brighter, longer-lasting results.

  4. step 4

    Make the dye baths

    Prepare the dyes according to the manufacturer's directions. If the directions don't already call for it, dissolve 1 cup of salt in hot water for each dye bath and add it to the bath to help set the dye. See the box below for our dye recommendations.

  5. step 5

    Do your tie-dyeing first

    To save time and simplify the process, start the party off by dyeing the T-shirts. After each shirt has been dyed, wring it out and place it in a sealable plastic bag. Set it aside as you commence the party activities. When the party's over, send each kid home with his or her bagged shirt, an extra pair of latex gloves, and a set of instructions (below).

  6. Washing and Drying Instructions

    1. Allow the T-shirt to set in the plastic bag overnight. Put on the rubber gloves and rinse the shirt, starting with warm water and then cool, until the water runs clear. Remove the rubber bands during rinsing. This is permanent dye, so be careful not to get any of it on your clothes.

    2. Wash the shirt by itself in the washing machine with cold water to avoid shrinkage. It's a good idea to run the washer again with warm water and some soap to make sure that no dye is left in your machine.

    3. Hang up the shirt to dry or dry it in the dryer on the coolest setting.

    4. After your child wears the shirt, wash and dry it separately once more in case the dye is not completely rinsed out.

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