Introduction: Rainbow Tie Dye

Hello!.. I have had quite a few people ask me how I make my rainbow pattern tie dye shirts. This is my first instructable so please bear with me as I muddle through this process.

Before I begin with the instructions let me start by saying that I am not a professional by any means, but after many years and many trials and errors this process works for me every time.

I know many many places tell you to use 100% cotton tees and things for best results. I will be honest. I have used some things that are cotton poly blend and as long as they are mostly cotton my color results are usually the same.

As far as brands of tie dye work I prefer Jacquard dyes which I can usually purchase at Jo-Anns crafts but amazon carries them and many other places. The plus side of getting them at Jo-Anns is can use your coupon!

Before I get started on any tie dying process I pre wash all my things just to get the extra chemicals out that can be in clothing. I think one of the main tricks to my success of keeping my shirts bright and colorful for years to come is soaking them in soda ash after they are washed. I wouldn't skip this step. Many kits do not contain the soda ash so you may have to buy it separately but it is always in the same spot as the dye. After my shirts have gone through a normal wash I just fill the washing machine with the least amount of water I need, dump in the soda ash let it swish around for a minute and then stop the wash. Let the clothing sit in the soda ash water for at least a 1/2 hour. After this time, don't rinse it..just spin the water out. You want the soda ash to stay in the cloth. It helps open up the fibers and allows the dyes to adhere better.

Here is a list of what I used.

Dyes of your choosing ( I used Magenta, Orange, Yellow, Lime green, Bright blue, and Violet)

Sewing needle and thread ( color of thread doesn't matter)

rubber bands

rubber gloves ( I don't use them but I make the kids use them)

saran wrap

and a tee shirt or tank top that has been prepped

and a washable kids marker

As a side note I do like to do my tie dye on a raised surface so if I over do the dyes they drip down.

In the pictures you will see I used a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and a cookie drying rack.

Step 1: Getting Your Shirt Ready!

Before we get started on tying up our shirts mix your dyes up per the instructions on your particular dye brand. Follow these instructions or you will not get your desired colors. Set your mixed and bottled dyes aside and wash off your hands well. You don't want to transfer dye onto your shirt while you are tying it. I have done that a million times and I get so mad at myself every time. Also to get the lighter blue color I had for my "sky" I simply used a spare bottle I had at home ( I have so many!) and I filled it mostly with water and added some of the blue dye I had mixed up. It is basically a very watered down version of the blue dye I used in the rainbow.

After your shirt has been properly prepared and still damp ( you want to do this part while its damp and dye it while its damp too if you can colors come out better!) lay it out flat on your surface. Take your sewing needle and thread at least 18 inches of thread and tie a knot in the end.

Figure out where on your shirt you would like your rainbow to be. Start drawing your arc line. You only need to have one line. Draw your line all the way across from one side to the other.

Step 2: Stitching and Gathering Your Line

Now you are going to just simply weave your needle in an out following your line making sure you go through both sides of the shirt. Tug a little as you go, it makes it easier to gather once you get to the end. Once you have gotten your thread from one end to the other simply hold the tee shirt and pull on the thread so that it gathers up nice and tight. Don't worry about tying off the end we are just going to snip the extra thread off after we get our first rubber band in place. Keep tugging till your material is gathered up nice and tight. But be careful! If you tug to hard you will snap your thread and then you will have to start this step over

Step 3: Using Rubber Bands to Create Your Pattern

Now that you have gotten your thread nice and tight its time to use rubber bands to hold your pattern shape. Place your first rubber band on top of your stitch gathered spot.( I have also done this step using zip ties! I do actually find that easier but I didn't have any) Once this is done you can snip of the extra thread. The thread in the shirt will be easily removed before you wash out your tee. Now you need to create 6 spaces for your rainbow colors. You simply gather the rest of the shirt tight and add rubber bands equally down the tee until you have your 6 spaces created. Leave the top and bottom "sky" area untied.

Step 4: Dying Your Shirt

Now the fun begins!

Carefully take each of your colors and saturate the area you are choosing to color. Here I just did your typical rainbow order. Magenta ( you can use red of course but I had magenta) Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple. Don't rush this step take your time. When you have done all the rainbow colors carefully flip your tee over and do the back side with the coordinating colors.. Once done with the rainbow I took my watered down blue squirted some on the top and bottom of the tee. I wasn't worried about saturating this through. I like a little white in my sky! I chose to sprinkle a little green and purple in there too....why not. Now carefully flip it over and repeat the "sky" process on the other side.

Step 5: Wrapping Your Thing of Beauty!

Now that you have dyed your tee you want to keep it wet. I simply lay a large piece of saran wrap on my table ( I know, I know easier said than done) and lay my project on top. Be very careful that no parts of the shirt touch each other, you don't want color to transfer and mess up your hard work. Now carefully wrap your tee with the saran wrap. I usually need a couple of pieces to make this happen. Saran wrap and I are not friends. Now place your tee somewhere safe for at least 12 hours.

Step 6: The Wash Out and the Reveal!!!!!!!

OK so you have patiently waited over night for the magic to happen and you are ready to reveal your piece of beauty. I simply unwrap my piece, carefully remove the rubber bands and pull out the string. I rinse as much dye out of my shirts as I can by running water in the kitchen sink and wringing my shirt out. Do this for a little bit. It doesn't need to run clear, but it makes the washout a lot easier especially if you are washing out multiple pieces at one time like I normally do. Now I just toss my shirt in the wash, do a normal wash on cold. I toss everything in the drier after, but I have been known to hang them all out on the line to dry when the weather is nice. The visual is awesome!

Hope you enjoyed my very wordy tutorial. Please feel free to ask any and all questions and I will do my best to answer them!