Tie-Dye With the Kids




Introduction: Tie-Dye With the Kids

About: I am a domestic engineer, aka. a stay at home Mom. A former science geek, scenic carpenter, and quilter.

This Instructable will show you how to tie-dye, and how to do it with children, so that they have fun, and are proud of their work. 
I have 4 kids, ages 6, 4, 2 and 2. They loved doing this project. 
It kept them busy for a few hours over the course of two days. 

Here are a few pointers in working with the kids. 

1: relax. 
2: make one job into a lot of smaller tasks, to keep them occupied. 
3: don't look for perfection
4: try not to worry about the mess. 
5: the dye eventually washes off the skin. 
6: make sure nobody gets hurt. 
7: make sure everybody has fun. 

Step 1: Gather Supplies/ Get Kids Ready.

We used a tie-dye kit. I bought it from amazon. You can also get it at craft stores. I like this kit because it is not expensive, you can make a lot of shirts, you don't need to boil water, the colors are nice and bright.  I've tried using rit dye, and it's not as good. I also like this kit because it comes with squirt bottles, which i like better than dipping into buckets. 

You also need shirts. I got two five packs, one boy's, one men's. You can use old shirts, or get new ones. 100% cotton works best. We also dyed 2 pairs of socks and a pair of undies.  

You also will need:
  • a bucket
  • water
  • zip lock bags
and some patience. 

Our kit came with a DVD on how to tie-dye. I put this on for the kids while i gathered the supplies. They had fun watching the dvd to get ideas. 

Step 2: Wet the Shirts

Get a big bucket at fill it with water. This was a lot of fun for the kiddos. Let them hold the hose. Send one kid to turn it on and off. We were outside, and it was a hot day, so no need to worry about the mess. 

Now take everything you are going to dye and get it wet. It is easier to bunch, fold, tie etc. when the fabric is wet. 

the kids had a lot of fun "washing" the clothes in the tub. My oldest went on and on about how the pilgrims used to wash laundry in buckets.  They also enjoyed getting very wet. 

Step 3: Tie

Now it is time to tie. 
The kids had some ideas from the DVD. You can also go online and look for patterns, There are tons. 
Let the kids be creative. No matter how they knot it and twist it, it will look great. 

I tried to make a peace sign with thread. I basted and gathered. It was a pretty big failure, but the shirt still came out good. 

Spirals are always fun. We also liked bunching. Folding into a log, then adding rubber bands made some good stripes. 

Where you put the bands on really tight, the shirt will stay white. 

Step 4: Soda Ash / Get Dye Ready

Now it is time to make the soda ash. 
This help the dye stick. 
Our kit came with some, and it needed 2 gallons of warm water. 
We dumped out the bucket, and refilled it with the soda ash mixture.  Put all your tied garments in, and let sit for 20 minutes. 
Let the kids put them in, dunk them, stir them, etc. 

Our dye came in bottles, and you just needed to add warm water. 
I gave the bottles to the kids to shake up.  
Just keep your finger on the cap so it doesn't shoot off. 

Step 5: Dye

Now it's time to dye. I let the big kids do this, and I kept the little ones out of the way. They are too little for this, and I knew they would either:
1: drink the dye
2: dye themselves
3: annoy the girls
or all of the above. 

Now our kit only came with 2 gloves, and i had a third hanging around. we each got one, and we each ended up with one clean hand, and one very messy hand. don't panic, it was pretty much all washed off after 2 days. 

(make sure the kids aren't wearing any favorite clothes. they will get a few stains)

We layed down a trash bag on the grass as our work area. The extra dye could run off into the grass, and wasn't noticeable. We also got a couple small stains in the concrete. I don't know how long they will last. The girls think they're pretty. 

So now you squirt the dye onto the shirts. The more you use, the more colorful they will be. It helps if you really bury the nozzle down into the folds. 

When you are done dyeing the shirt, put it in a zip lock bag and seal it up. 

You want to let them sit for at least 12 hours. Ours sat for about 16 hours. 

Then clean up. I threw out the bottles. We used up almost all the dye. (we had a lot of yellow left over) and then hosed off the area. 

You can mix colors, but remember, if you mix all 3 together, you get brown. 

Step 6: Rinse

So the next day, after 12-24 hours have passed, it is time to rinse. I let the kids go pick the shirt they wanted to rinse, and bring it into the kitchen. 
Rinse them under warm water until they run clear.  You don't really need gloves for this step. 
Just make sure they keep it over the sink the whole time. 

once it runs clear, i had them take them outside and hang them on the porch rail. They probably washed about 2 shirts each before the got bored. I rinsed the rest, and they brought them out to the porch one at a time. They had fun arranging them, picking they favorites, trying to figure out which ones they made, etc.   I think they were also naming them. 

Step 7: Wash

So now it's time to wash them. 
Use detergent, and wash on warm/cold. 
This gets rid of any remaining dye. Otherwise there is a good chance you would dye your skin the 1st time you wore them. 

Then toss them in the dryer, or hang them up to dry. 

Step 8: Wear!

Now enjoy your shirts. The kids picked out their favorites for the photo shoot.  It is very hard to get 4 kids to all face the camera and smile. 
These shirts are so much fun. The kids were very proud. They told everyone that they made them. The liked matching each other. 

The adult size shirts can be made into dresses, or worn as night gowns / cover ups.

They make good presents too. 

That's all! Hope you have fun!

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    2 years ago

    Thanks for look great


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Always a great project for kids. They love the outcome and the mess. I see you particularly like the traditional blue and purple tie dye colors .  Blue and purple combinations are always popular. The Tie Dyed Shop


    Reply 2 years ago

    how how to know to dye Shirt Kids


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This reminded me of tie-dye with my son about 10 years ago (which was revisiting my classroom tie-dye adventure in 5th grade). I think blue-green fingers were involved, but it was fun.

    I especially like that you reminded people to not worry about the mess and just have fun together. Even working outside, I have several relatives who would freak out at any stains or splatters.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    lovely children...requires patience to do this :-)...which comes with motherhood

    What a wonderful activity to do with your kids! I would have worried about it being too messy, but I see everything went really well. That's great :)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Yeah, our hands got a little stained, but not too bad. The key is to do a lot outside, so stains are no biggie. This squirt bottle method is great too. When you do it by dipping into buckets of dye, so much messier!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    They look like they had a great time! Thanks for sharing.