Updated!  (Scroll down for before and after stuff)

I’m going to try to compile the best of the information I found about tie dye on the web and interject what worked for us.

As a kid when we tie dyed at summer camp we threw a few rubber bands on a shirt and dunked it in a tub of dye (or two). And I was always a little disappointed that the pattern wasn’t very dynamic and the colors looked faded. Turns out all I needed were 3 simple things: a dropper dye kit, soda ash, and the swirl method.

This YouTube video by cacacarkeys was great. It’s long (as she says herself) but it’s a full demonstration of what you will be doing start to finish. This talks about the ash, the swirl and the droppers.

I love this folding technique demonstrated by expertvillage. He uses the summer-camp dunking method, but we used this fold and variations of it with the dropper dye applicators and it worked great. The one exception being the shirt I made for myself- I did not apply enough dye. More on that later.

I set up the soda ash rinse (which happens first and helps the dye adhere to the fibers) next to the sink. But next time I would set it up right next to the work space.

Here are the dyes. I got the Jaquard Tie Dye Kit from Hobby Lobby and used my smart phone to get the 40% off coupon. We were dying for 2 women 3 girls and 2 boys so I also snagged a purple Tulip brand packet and an extra dropper. Next time I would get a pink packet as well because diluting the red didn’t really make pink. The Jaquard colors can be mixed to create orange, green and purple, but having additional colors on hand worked well for our purposes.

Our yellow dropper had some issues at the spout, extra plastic stuck to the end made it hard to spray out.  In addition to the items recommended in the video and in the dye box I suggest having a needle or small nail available, because you don’t want to have to look for one after you’ve started and got dye all over your hands or gloves!

Trash bag on dining room table was a great work surface. The only adjustment I would make is I would buy a plastic table cloth and tape it in place so it doesn’t shift. **The table needs to be wiped down between items- use a paper towel or clorox wipe or similar because we kept finding rogue dots of color on our shirts.

Do wear gloves.

Our post-production staging area. I put another trash bag on top so the shirts could sit for a full 24 hours.  The box said 5 shirts.  We got 15 items out of the deal and still had dye to spare.

They really felt like little mysterious packages. We had no idea how they would look until they were opened the next morning.

This morning I rinsed the shirts, removed the rubber bands and tossed them in the washing machine. I recommend doing this far away from any other linens and in a sink that you’re okay staining. (Horray for utility sinks!)

Just so you know:



I’m kinda excited that my shirt got messed up because it gives me a reason to do this again. Especially because the Husband said to me this morning “Where’s my shirt?” Ummmm…. awkward. Next time, babe. Next time.

Here they are rolled up:

Here’s how they turned out: the location of the shirts are the same in both pictures for easy referencing.

The swirl method is really pretty. The red/white/blue shirts were folded and then rolled onto a swirl. The adult tanks (both purple) were folded and then rolled, this doesn’t seem to work well on adult clothing, especially things that are to be dyed in one color. There just isn’t enough color penetration happening that way.