Nothing says summer to me more than tie-dye! You’re outside, surrounded by all the lovely bugs and plants nature has to offer and you’re transforming that blah t-shirt from last fall into something bright and colorful. Much like the caterpillar goes through its transformation into a butterfly, we may feel transformed by the simple act of bringing color to a t-shirt! Though there may be many, many tie-dye tutorials out there…here’s one from the heart of the Innisfree Art Studio. We came upon the good fortune of being left many packets of dye and bottles from a previous dying project, and therefore didn’t have any supplies to buy. If you’re starting from scratch, you can either buy a kit that comes simple and ready to go at Joann Fabrics or Michaels (a great use for that 50% off coupon that comes so often) or buy RIT dyes that come in a powder and you can mix with water. I’d never heard of this method until recently, and quite like it because it’s easier to customize colors and I find it way more economical! Here’s your supply list:
1) Plastic bags (zip-lock is preferable but we used old bread bags and bulk bags and simply tied them in a knot to seal)
2) Rubber bands
4) Empty ketchup bottles and RIT dyes or squeeze bottles from a craft store OR tie-dye kit
5) Washing soda (Arm and Hammer makes a basic one)
6) Large plastic tub
7) Newspaper or some kind of table covering, depending on how you choose to protect your workspace
8) Tshirts, socks, fabric, headbands, dresses, scarves or whatever your heart desires! Just as long as it’s 100% plant fiber (cotton, wool, silk- NO synthetic fibers)
Step 1: Cover your workspace and make sure your dyes are ready to go- I mix about 3 teaspoons of RIT dye per bottle (about 8 oz.) to make the dye. You can adjust this if you want a darker or lighter result. Make sure the powder is completely dissolved, as particles will stick to the fabric and give it a speckled look (though this may be what you want!)
Step 2: Band your t-shirt, socks, pillowcases, whatever. We used many different methods to band our clothing items. Here’s a good layout of your design options: Step 3: Soak your banded items in the plastic tub with a 1 gallon water to 1 cup washing soda solution. Water should be warm to best dissolve the washing soda (also called soda ash). Soak for about 15 minutes until garment is saturated.
Step 4: Squeeze out your cloth item with gloves (washing soda can sting a bit) until it’s not dripping, then place on your work surface and prepare to tie-dye!
Step 5: Saturate your items with dye colors of your choice. The way your garment was banded may inform your dye decisions (people typically choose to dye in between banded sections, creating the separated colors you often see in professionally tie-dyed spiral or striped designs). However, the colors are always up to the artist! We got quite creative and messy and still came up with some gorgeous results.
Step 6: Place your garment in a plastic bag (zip-lock or recycled depending on what you have available) and seal well! I often place all of our individual baggies (labeled with names of course!) in a larger trash bag in case something leaks.
Step 7: Let sit for 24 hours.
Step 8: The next day, rinse under cold water until it runs mostly clear. Then you can remove the bands and keep rinsing until water is clear. When you feel the garment has been sufficiently rinsed out then you can run it through a normal wash/dry cycle in the washing machine. In our experience, we had a t-shirt that was saturated in purple dye and it turned many of the other t-shirts a bit purple which was nice, but not necessarily the plan! Oh well! There’s a lot of flexibility with tie-dye so be flexible with how your garments come out- you might be pleasantly surprised!