Tie-dying is a fun summer craft that you can do to keep your kids busy for a few hours. Buy a tie-dye kit and some items to dye and you are set!
Tye-dying is a fun craft that can be done by kids from toddlers up to adults. Keep in mind that the dye can stain your clothes so wear something you don't mind getting colors on! Wear the gloves in the kit to protect your hands from being dyed.
Watch our video or keep reading for photos and instructions on tie-dying. Find links below to purchase your supplies for tie-dying and have your items shipped. If you purchase through our links, we get a small commission and you help us to keep making more fun craft videos!
We would like to give a shout out to our guest, Jackie, who demonstrated the shibori and spiral methods of tie-dying. Thanks, Jackie!
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What you need to tie-dye
- Tie-Dye Kit (our kit came with colors, gloves, table-cover, rubber bands and project book)
- Items to tie-dye like t-shirts, hats, bandanna, bags, shoes
- Plastic Grocery Bags (for putting the dyed items in to sit for 6-8 hrs. One bag per item)
- Paper Towels (for covering your surface and cleaning spills, etc)
- Paintbrush or Foam Paint Brush
- Disposable Plastic Cups
- Large Cardboard tube (for Shibori dye method)
Basic How to Tye-Dye instructions
The dye can only be used one day, so if you have a lot of colors, only mix up the colors you plan to use. The instructions say that the dye loses its intensity over time. You can get refill packets from the manufacturer, but from what I found, they seemed expensive. It seemed to me that it would be less expensive to purchase a new kit.
We recommend you plan to tie-dye several items in the same session to get the best use out of your dye.
The instructions say to pre-wash the fabric, but we did not wash ours first and we got nice results.
How to tie-dye BASIC Steps
These steps are the general steps used for all of the tie-dye methods described in this post.
- Mix Dye
- Apply Dye (see below for the different methods we used)
- Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag for 6 - 8 hrs. You want it to stay damp. We left ours for a little over 8 hours. If you want more intensity of colors than we got, you can try leaving the dye on longer.
- Rinse under water until the water runs clear. Rinse each item separately and don't let them touch even after they are rinsed. Cut off rubber bands while you are rinsing and keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
- Wash each item separately in your washing machine using the large load setting and a small amount of soap. I also had Color Catcher sheets and I put one or two of those in to catch the color. Dry in your dryer or hang to dry.
- Wash and dry tie-dyed items separately for the first few washes.
Keep reading for are some of the different methods we used to tie-dye our items.
How to tie-dye the Crumple Method
For the Crumple method, you simply scrunch the fabric together using your fingers and push the fabric together into a circle. Squirt dye onto the fabric and let it soak in.
After the dye is applied, carefully place the crumpled fabric into a plastic bag. Tie the bag loosely closed and let sit for 6 - 8 hours (or more) before rinsing.
How to tie-dye the Ombre Method
For the Ombre method, you will use foam paintbrushes to apply the dye. Select one color of dye and starting from the bottom, squirt dye onto the shirt in a small area. Quickly use a wet brush and start stroking upwards. Keep dipping your brush first in dye and stroke it on. Then dip in water and stroke to blend the dye. Apply more dye towards the bottom of the shirt. By the time you get to the top of the shirt, just dip your brush in the dyed water and apply it to get a light color at the top.
After the dye is applied, we folded the shirt side to side (ie shoulder to shoulder). You don't want the top of the shirt to touch the bottom where it's darker or the colors may bleed. We folded it together and then wrapped it in plastic wrap. Let it sit for 6 - 8 hours (or more) before rinsing.
How to tie-dye the Shibori Method
For the Shibori method, you need a cardboard tube. Roll your shirt from bottom to top onto the cardboard tube. Then scrunch the sides in towards the center and bind it with rubber bands. Select 3 colors to apply. Keep in mind that the colors where they touch may blend into another color (ie. Blue and Yellow combine to green).
Apply the dye to each section. In order for the dye to soak through all of the layers of the rolled fabric, you need to apply quite a bit of dye. We didn't apply enough dye so the bottom of the shirt didn't have as much color when it was completed.
Once you have the dye applied, wrap the shirt in plastic wrap to keep it damp. Let it sit for 6 - 8 hrs before rinsing.
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How to tie-dye the Spiral Method
For the Spiral method, pinch the fabric in the center and twist it into a flat spiral. Once you have it twisted, bind with rubber bands. We were dying a small bag, so we only bound with two rubber bands. If you are dying a shirt, bind with at least three.
Select colors and apply the dye into each section between the rubber bands. Apply dye on both sides of the project. Once the dye is applied, place the project into a plastic bag. Let it sit for 6 - 8 hrs before rinsing.
How to tie-dye the Galaxy Hat
For painting the hat in the galaxy style, use a foam brush to apply colored dyes on areas of the hat. Rinse your brush in water between colors. Apply all of the colors to the hat first. Then fill in between with the black.
After the dye is applied, carefully place the hat into a plastic bag. Tie the bag loosely closed and let sit for 6 - 8 hours (or more).
How to Rinse your tie-dye out
After the items have set for at least 6 - 8 hrs, it's time to rinse! One at a time, take the items out and rinse them under cold/warm water. Remove the rubber bands while rinsing. Rinse until the water runs clear. Put each item aside, separately. Don't allow items to touch or the colors could still bleed onto one another.
Wash each item separately using a large load setting and a small amount of detergent. I put a couple of color catcher sheets in the machine with each project also. We have a high-efficiency washer, so we cannot pick "large load" as the machine detects how big the load is. I just picked warm with heavy soil settings.
Wash these tie-dyed items separately for a few washes!
Our Finished tie-dye Projects
These are our finished projects. The kids really enjoyed making these items and think they turned out nicely.
This is our hat after it was dyed. The hat fabric holds the color much more than the t-shirts so the colors stay vivid. We rinsed the hat under the faucet, but we didn't wash it in the washing machine.
These are two finished shirts that were done with the crumple and shibori methods.
The finished bag turned out nicely. We used the swirl method for this bag. I can see the swirl in it but this method doesn't show up as nicely on a smaller project.
We really like how the ombre shirt turned out. While we were painting it, we really weren't sure how it would look, but we think it looks awesome! This is a great method to try.
We didn't show this shirt in the video, but Kate just painted on this shirt to make it look like a Galaxy. She used the sponge brush to put the dye colors where she wanted them.
After Kate's Galaxy hat was dry, she splattered some white puffy paint on it so it would look like stars. She really likes her finished Galaxy Hat with Stars.
Click Here to watch our other video about tie-dying a pair of white sneakers!