Cindy’s Tye-Dye Tips

We had our annually tye-dye day today. I’ve had many requests for instructions on how we do our tye-dye. This post is my attempt to give everyone a look at exactly how we do it.

The first thing you will want to do is soak the items you want to dye (which should all be 100% cotton) in a mixture of water and soda ash. If you buy a tye-dye kit, the soda ash will usually come with it. If not, you can buy it separately at places like Michael’s and JoAnn. You should soak the items for at least 20 minutes.

While the stuff you want to tye-dye is soaking, you will want to get all the stuff you need to tye-dye all set up. You will want to use two tables – one for the “tyeing” and one for the “dyeing”. You don’t want to tye on the same table you dye because you will end up getting dye on the items while you tye them. No matter how well you think you cleaned off the dye from the last item, there will always be a bit left on the table and it will end up on the next item you tye. Usually it ends up being pink when you are tyeing one of the boy’s items. Believe me, it is way easier to just have two tables set up.

We usually use the Dylon dyes and a ton of bottles from when we used to buy kits that we save to use each year. We put around 1/2 inch of dye in the bottle, add some salt then fill with water and shake.

As you mix up each bottle, you will want use a sharpie to write the name of the color on the bottle. The dyes don’t always look like the final color while in the bottle, so you really need to do this to be sure you are really using the orange instead of the yellow.

Other items you need to get out include: cookie sheets, cookie cooling racks, aprons, rags, gloves, rubber bands, plastic wrap and zip-lock bags.

By now, 20 minutes will have passed and it’s time to start tyeing! The pattern you end up with on the shirt will be the result of how you “tyed” it. This page has some examples of different tying techniques. If you buy a kit, they normally contain a page with sample tying techniques.

Once you have it folded, add rubber bands. The rubber bands will be used to mark off where you add different colors when you dye it. The more rubber bands, the more colors. You can uses as many or as few as you like and space them out however to want to get different results.

Now mover your item over to the dyeing table and place it on top of a cookie cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath. This allows the extra dye to drain into the cookie sheet without it getting where you don’t want it. It also helps with keeping all the extra dye off the dyeing table.

Working with one side at a time and add one color in each section marked off by the rubber bands. You can pick several colors and alternate them in a pattern or use all different ones. Once you finish one side, flip it over and do the other. Make sure you squirt the dye inside all the folds or you will end up with a ton of white on the finished product.

When you are done with the dyeing, wrap the item in plastic wrap. This helps prevent dye from bleeding from one part of the item to another, where you didn’t intend for the dye to bleed.

Next write the name of the person the item belongs to on a zip-lock bag.

Now put the item in the bag and let it sit there for 24 hours. After 24 hours, rinse it out in the sink and then toss it in the washer and dryer.

Before you dye another item, you will want rinse off the cookie sheet and cookie cooling rack.

If you are really creative, you can try some free hand dyeing. Talia create some flowers, clouds and a sun by rubber banding off a few areas.

She then put different colors in different areas to create the design she wanted.

Here’s how it turned out:

If you want to create a peace sign, you can do it by hand.

When you do hand designs like this, you will want to leave it on the cookie cooling rack instead of wrapping it in plastic and putting it in a zip-lock bag.

Some more pictures from our tye-dye day.

Here’s how some of the other ones turned out.

I’ll add more pictures of the finished items once I get around to it!