Introduction: Tie-Dyed Easter Eggs

About: I am a registered nurse living on the east coast of Iowa. ;-)

In this instructable you'll learn how to make uniquely dyed Easter Eggs by wrapping them with men's silk neckties and then boiling them so that the eggs absorb the ink.

Supplies needed:
-100% silk neckties from your favorite thrift store. Ties need to be 100% silk or you get a patchy dye-job, as polyester won't give up its dye to the eggs.
- eggs*
- small zip ties
- strips of stretchy white fabric
- scissors
- a pot big enough to hold the eggs you want to dye
- white vinegar
- tongs

You'll also need access to a sink, running water, and stovetop.

After dyeing the eggs you'll need a bowl of ice-water to dunk the eggs in to "set" your dye.

*the eggs created by this method are hardboiled but are NOT EDIBLE. They are great for an Easter-egg hunt or for decoration but eventually will spoil and must be thrown away. If you want to use dyed eggshells in a craft project this method can also be used to dye eggshells that have been blown-out already. Those eggshells will not spoil and will last indefinitely with proper care.

Step 1: Disassemble the Neckties

This step can be done well in advance, as you collect suitable neckties.
Neckties that work best tend to have smaller, intricate designs. Red-based ties seem to dye eggs better, while I have found green-based ties to be disappointing.

- Cut the main large stitch on the back of the tie.

- Unfold the two layers surrounding the "core".

- Continue to separate the two layers, cutting through the middle stitches as you go. (If you aren't sure the tie will make a beautiful egg, you don't need to disassemble the entire tie. Feel free to only separate what you will need for a single egg.

- Remove cotton core of tie as well as that rear pocket of fabric. Discard those.

When you are done the tie should be just a single layer of colorful fabric.

Step 2: Wash & Wrap Egg.

The following steps must be done at the time you are going to dye the egg, if the eggs are not blown out.

- Scrub the surface of the egg with dish soap and an abrasive scrubby or brush. This removes a protective layer around the shell and allows the dyes to be absorbed.

- Dry the egg(s) and then lay the egg on the tie with the tie facing right-side-up.

- Gently wrap the tie around the egg, making sure the egg is covered and trying to make the tie lay as flat as possible.

- Put a zip-tie around the gathering point of the tie and gently tighten. (Pull on various edges of the tie above the zip-tie to make the tie lie flatter on the egg. You will probably have to tighten the zip-tie further after doing this)

- Cut off excess tie.

Step 3: Wrap Eggs With White Fabric.

When dyeing multiple eggs at once I like to put ties on all the eggs before I do this step, that way I can remember which ties I have used already. (When using eggs that have been already blown-out you can take several days to "tie-up" the eggs, and then boil them once you have enough prepared to fill your pot.)

-Take a strip of white fabric and wrap it around the egg and tie. (old tee-shirts, fitted sheets, white pantyhose, or old small socks all work well for this.) This step further presses the tie onto the egg, enhancing the color absorption.

- Tie a knot to keep the fabric tight on the egg. Again, be gentle.

Step 4: Boil the Wrapped Egg(s).

Put your eggs in a suitably-sized pot and add enough water to submerge them completely. Then add about 1/2 cup vinegar.

Turn on the heat and heat water to a slow rolling boil. Once water has started to boil let the eggs boil for 20 minutes.
(Make sure to start off with water that is cool or room-temperature. If you put the eggs straight into boiling water they will crack and spoil much faster.)

After 20 minutes use the tongs to carefully place eggs into ice-water. (Children will obviously need help with this step.) This "sets" the dye as well as helps the eggs cool. You don't need to wait very long before removing the egg from the ice water, usually 5 minutes is more than enough.

Step 5: Unwrap Your Tie-dyed Egg(s)!

- Remove white fabric. (You usually don't need to undo the knot if the fabric is stretchy enough.)

- Clip the zip-tie (I think finger-nail clippers work the best for this. - Be careful not to crack the egg.)

- Reveal your dyed egg!

I usually do all of this over the bowl of ice-water in the sink. That way if I drop the egg it lands in the water, not on the counter. And I just drop the dripping bit of white fabric in the sink until I have all the eggs revealed.

Here are some eggs I've dyed, and above them some of the ties I used to dye them. These eggs have holes because I blew them out ahead of time, knowing I wanted to keep them.

Have fun! And don't forget, the hard-boiled eggs are NOT EDIBLE!

Print & Dye Contest

Second Prize in the
Print & Dye Contest