Once again, I decided to set off on another little adventure in hopes of moving closer to checking another thing off my list of 20 summer goals. This time, I wanted to work on a craft, and what better to do than get a little messy and tie dye some shirts! I have to admit, I didn’t do this craft alone, I grabbed a friend and my niece, to make working towards this goal a bit more fun! After enlisting their help, we went off on a journey to Michael’s (just a chain of craft stores, in case you’re not familiar with it) to pick up the tie dye kits. I ended up deciding to go with two separate kits with 5 bottles in each, as the bottles in those kits were larger than all the others and I thought I’d be able to do more with them. The two kits I bought were both the Tulip One-Step Tie Dye Kit, and I bought one called Carousel and one called Neon.
The colors included in the Carousel kit were Teal, Royal Blue, Black, Purple, and Fuchsia, and the colors included in the Neon kit were another Fuchsia, Orange, Yellow, Lime, and Turquoise. Each kit also came with some gloves to protect your hands from looking the same as your newly tie dyed shirt when you’re done, and some rubber bands to use when making the design. Once we arrived home, set everything up outside, and changed into old clothes that we couldn’t care less about, we got down to business.
These kits are incredibly user friendly; all you need to do to get started is fill the bottles up with normal water from the tap, shake it up to incorporate the powder dyes in the bottle, and its time to dye! Before you start, its best to wash your shirt and pop them in the dryer (without any fabric softener or dryer sheets) so that they are clean and ready to go to soak up the colors. This kit doesn’t require you to soak them in vinegar before dying them to hold the color, but you can always do that if you’d like. I absolutely hate the smell of large quantities of vinegar, so I passed on that one. Once the dye was ready, I got started getting the shirts tied up in the rubber bands. For the tank top I’m going to share with you here, I chose to attempt a spiral pattern. I say attempt, because these things never turn out “right” for me. My spirals always turn out a bit wonky and off, but that’s honestly half the fun of tie dye; nothing ever comes out the same and it usually looks better when its not perfect!
First, you lay your shirt out as flat as possible on your work surface. I’m using an oversized tank top that I got from Walmart for something like $10, but you can use anything you’d like really. It’s just best to make sure it’s mostly (if not 100%) cotton, as it tends to be the easiest to work with and holds the dye the best.
Then, now this is the tricky bit, you want to pinch a spot near the middle, or wherever you want the center of your spiral to be, and start twisting it counter-clockwise, gathering all the rest of the fabric into the spiral as you go. It is hard to explain, but once you start twisting your shirt you’ll understand what I mean. And don’t sweat it if you have to start over and re-do it, or if it goes a bit wonky, it always takes me at least three tries before I’m happy with the final product.
After twisting the shirt until the entire thing has gone into one big spirally circle, you’ll just want to chuck a few rubber bands on it to secure it. Make sure that the rubber bands all meet in relatively the same spot in the middle of the spiral. It should almost look like a sliced pizza from the top.
After you’ve done that, and have completed whatever design you’re wanting for your other shirts (if you’re unsure what other designs you’d like to make, just do a quick google search and you’ll find loads of ideas and instructions on how to do them), its time to start the actual dying process. For a spiral design, its easiest to just dye the shirt in between the rubber bands, as if you’re dying each little pizza slice a different color. I always do them in a pattern of sorts where each slice gets dyed the same color as the one directly across from it, but you can do whatever you’d like really. This is the messy part obviously, so do take care to wear the gloves provided in the kit and make sure you’re wearing things you don’t care too much about, because its almost guaranteed that they will get messy. It’s also helpful to lay an old towel or something down on the surface you’ll be using to make sure nothing gets ruined (aside from the towel) and also to make the clean up process a bit more manageable. The dye will bleed together with the one next to it, and chances are high that various colors will rub off from your gloves onto the next section of the shirt that you work with, but don’t worry about it too much, it will turn out fine in the end, I promise.
After your shirt is thoroughly soaked with the colorful dye, you just put it into a zip-lock bag or wrap it in plastic wrap, and leave it to sit for 6-8 hours, or whatever your kit recommends if it is different from mine. Once that agonizing wait is up, you’ll have to begin the task of getting the excess dye out of the fabric. This takes a while, so be prepared. They say to rinse the shirt in the sink until the water runs clear, similar to dying your hair at home, but if I’m honest, I’ve never been able to get the water completely clear. So just do your best, and once that’s done, you’ll just pop them in the washer on the largest load setting you have (the excess water is necessary to get the rest of the dye out) and add in a very small amount of whatever laundry detergent you use, and let them wash. Once that’s through you can either let them air dry, or pop them in the dryer. I, being the forever impatient girl that I am, chose the dryer option, and in 30 short minutes, my shirts were dry and the tie dye process was complete!
I love tie dye, and not because its psychedelic or because I’m a “hippie” as people often think, I just love it because of the color. The bright colors, the various patterns, and the way that every single one of them is different just makes me happy. And I’m always up for any excuse to get messy and do something creative.
With this, I am one step closer to checking another thing off of my list of summer goals. And if there’s one thing that I’d like you to take away from this post, it would be to just go out and do something creative! There’s no “wrong” way to be creative, and that’s a beautiful thing.
I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.