DIY Tie Dye

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It’s time to get crafty! It’s time for the first of my DIY projects! This week we are going to be making some super cool shirts like the one’s I’ve got pictured above. I’ve often considering turning my love of tie dyeing all the things into a bit of a side career but unfortunately for me I don’t really know where to begin with that so I continue to make them for family and friends instead of starting a little online store to sell them from. Seeing as I was making a few I decided this week I’d step you through all the processes for what I do to make pretty shirts. There’s a few things you’ll need and be warned, the kits if you choose to use this method can be a little on the expensive side. But on the positive side, they make up to five or six shirts and the dyes are able to be sealed again so there is an opportunity for you to use them at a later date. Another positive is they are the perfect thing for summer. Everyone wins here.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Tie Dying Kit (I used Jacquard’s Tie Dying Kit for these shirts)
  • 1-6 Plain white cotton shirts
  • 1 Bucket
  • 7 litres of warm water
  • GladWrap or large GladBags
  • A large piece of plastic to place everything on

The method is outlined very clearly in the instructions of the kit and I hardly see the need for me to repeat them here, but I thought I’d be better off making a few suggestions from what I’ve learnt: The instructions do need to be followed in order to achieve the best results. Don’t skip the step of soaking your shirts in the soda ash if you’re chosen kit comes with it. It might seem like an odd step that’s standing between you and tie dying fun but the sodium carbonate helps the dye set into the fabric and it really does make a difference. Plus, once they’ve been soaked you get to create your patterns. I would also recommend having everything there and ready. It can get messy and you don’t want to be tracking dye through your house as you run to prepare dyes and other things. Minimize the damage to your things! Wear old clothes when dyeing anything. Don’t ruin nice things with a splatter of dye, it’s not worth it, believe me.

I ended up with three shirts, I’m going to go through the method I used to make each of these so you can try and replicate them or come up with something similar if you wish. I figured doing this one by one was the best option so I could fully explain each.

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The first is this singlet. I used a red and a blue dye and in order to get this pattern. To get it I basically scrunched the shirt in my hands until it resembled a large brain and threw a few rubber bands around it until I was sure nothing was going to fall out. Then I started applying the dye lightly until the outside was almost all covered, then I started applying it randomly throughout the folds. Once I was satisfied with the amount of dye used – it ended up being about a fifth or so of each bottle – I placed it inside a GladBag and sat it aside and changed my gloves, moving to a new part of the plastic so I didn’t accidentally mix dyes.

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The second shirt is this singlet. This has an accordion pattern across the bottom section and a scrunched pattern at the top. To achieve this I used the same scrunching technique as before for the top half, for the bottom half I created folds working across the shirt, then secured these with several rubber bands. I followed the same dyeing technique with this one using the same colours and approximately the same amount of dye and when it was complete did the same as before.

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The final shirt, this spiral pattern is a little different to the others. It is the most complicated to dye mostly because you need to start spiraling the shirt from a single point then secure it in place with several rubber bands. In order to get the colours to work you need to colour sections one by one attempting to put some die throughout all the folds as you do. As I had a yellow, blue and red dyes I went in that order with six sections. The colours will blur together but that’s how you end up with purples and greens and the lighter blues, essentially by them mixing you get a greater range of colour on the shirt and end up with the spiral pattern. Once complete you follow the same process as before.

I left these in their bags for 24 hours, basically it lets all the colours sink in and take to the cotton. The next part is messy so you’ll need some gloves. Basically rinse them out in water until no more dye comes from the shirts, then I put them in the washing machine on a light cycle with a little detergent to clean them up one last time before hanging them out to dry. From there that is essentially it – you have some lovely shirts to wear! These aren’t the only patterns of course, the opportunities for you to create something new are entirely endless. It’s limited only by how creative you get.

It’s easy enough to do at home given you have enough time and the right materials but I’d love to see what you come up with if you decide to give this DIY a try so be sure to post a photo or a link to one below so I can check it out! If you have any questions pop them below in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

x ac

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