Tie Dye Shirt and Leggings

I can’t believe it’s already the middle of August! I just wrapped up another season of being the Arts & Crafts counselor at day camp, and I finally have time to do some crafting of my own. I have built up a long list of projects to do and new things to try, but to kick things off I had to start with my favorite activity: Tie Dye.

Step 1: Find white clothes

Like anyone obsessed with tie dye, I always have a store of white things ready to dye. For this project I selected a long sleeved Eddie Bauer cotton shirt that I got at the thrift store, and a pair of cotton capri leggings from Walmart. When looking for good things to dye, I always go for cotton or rayon, and avoid polyester and nylon.

Step 2: Soak in soda ash

Soda ash is a dye fixer. I don’t entirely know the chemistry of how it works, but essentially it raises the pH, which helps the fabric and dye become friends and stay together forever.

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You can buy packs of soda ash at craft stores, but they are generally too expensive for my tight budget. Instead I use Arm and Hammer washing soda, which you can buy in a huge box.

Step 3: Choose your colors

For this project I just used assorted dyes that I had leftover from other projects. I used three different brands: Tulip, Dylon, and Rit. I have never taken the time to really compare the results of different brands. When I get really serious about tie dye maybe I’ll get more picky about brands and even try the fancy stuff from Dharma. But for now, just old leftover generic brand dyes will do!

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Step 4: Tie

I don’t know how to explain tying techniques in words, so here are some pictures:

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Step 5: Dye

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Before & After

Step 6: Rinse

I usually rinse my stuff in the kitchen sink first. I squeeze it out under lukewarm water until the water runs almost clear, while removing all the rubber bands. Next I throw all the rinsed tie dye into the washing machine by itself and run it through a short hand wash cycle with no detergent. Finally it’s ready to be tossed in the dryer.

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And then you’re done!

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I’m pretty pleased with the way these came out. Next time I would like to try to get crisper spirals, more blue, less accidental green, and I would like to be more deliberate about color placement. The great thing about this activity is there is always room to improve by learning new techniques and practicing old skills!

Now what should I tie dye next??

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