Saturday, May 24, 2014

6 Tips for Tie-Dying T-Shirts with Kids

Our last craft with our first year campers was Tie-Dye T-Shirts. At first I was hesitant to tackle this project because it thought it would be too complicated and too messy. But I was amazed at how easy and fun and inexpensive this activity can be. Here is what we learned about the process.

Tip #1 Do Not Use Rite Dye.
My first thought was to pick up some rite dye at the grocery store and go to town. But I quickly learned in my online research that Rite Dye is not the best product for tie-dying t-shirts. We used a Tulip tie-dying kit with three colors that worked fantastic for us. If you want bright, vivid, long-lasting color do not use Rite Dye. One other suggestion: Use a t-shirt made of 100% cotton.

Tip #2 Use small squirt bottles for the dye.
Our Tulip kit came with three squirt bottles. This makes containing the dye so easy. We did this activity outside on some folding tables that we set up on the lawn. We protected the tables with some plastic table clothes.

Tip #3 Wear gloves during the entire process. 
I put gloves on each girl but then made the mistake of helping with bare hands! Just picking up the t-shirt and transferring it into a plastic bag left me with green fingers that lasted for days. Always use gloves! Use gloves from beginning to end even when you are rinsing out the shirts and putting them into the washing machine.

Tip #4 First soak your t-shirt in a soda ash solution.
I learned from my internet research that soaking your t-shirt in a soda ash solution first will make the colors bind to the shirt more effectively. This will result in a brighter colored shirt that holds its color longer. My Tulip Kit did not include soda ash but it was easy to find packaged separately. It was hanging right beside the tie-dye kits and came with simple instructions.  I bought both the kit and the soda ash at my local Hobby Lobby Craft Store. When we were about ready to start, I mixed the soda ash with water and soaked our six shirts in it for 20 minutes. Then I twisted out any excess water and we started the dying process on the damp shirts.

Tip #5 Try different techniques when dying your shirt. 
Our Tulip Kit included instructions for different tie-dye techniques. I let the girls choose which one they wanted to do. The easiest was the crumbled tie-dye. The girls simply crumpled up their shirts and squeezed dye onto the top. It doesn't get much easier than that!

The next easiest style was this beautiful ombre one. We squirted the dye directly on the bottom of the shirt and then dipped a paint brush in dye solution and brushed the dye on the remainder of the shirt.

The more traditional one involved bunching up the shirt and putting rubber bands around it every two inches. Then we squirted dye in alternating colors on the areas between the rubber bands.

This fun shirt was made by first rolling the shirt around a cardboard tube, scrunching it together and then squirting on the dye in three distance sections.

All the instructions were clear and easy to follow in the Tulip Kit.

Tip #6 Leave the dye soaking on the wet shirt for at least 8 hours before you rinse it out. 
Once you have finished tie-dying your shirt, leave it in the rubber bands or on the cardboard tube or in the scrunched ball and wrap it up completely in plastic wrap. I put each wrapped shirt in a separate grocery bag so that I could move them inside the house. Then we had to wait. I waited overnight and rinsed them out the next morning. Wait at least 8 hours. Then rinse the shirt under cold water until the water runs out clear. Throw it in the washing machine without any other article of clothing. Once through one wash and rinse cycle your shirt is ready to wear and wash normally in the future. The color is set and you are done.

We are so pleased with the vivid colors of our finished products. The girls loved doing this. I think this was their favorite project so far. We spent a total of $3.50 per shirt and that includes the cotton t-shirts which were $3.00 a piece. This would make a fun summer camp project and a great project to do at a family reunion or before a family vacation. Wouldn't it be fun for everyone in the family to have a matching tie-dye t-shirt?  Oh yeah! Pin It

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