Thanks to quarantine boredom, tie dye is having a serious moment. From tie dye fashions — just look at these rainbow Crocs — to do-it-yourself tie dyeing, everyone is all about the classic rainbow design. Kids, teens, moms — you name it.
Even if you’re not a handy-dandy DIY-er, just about anyone can tie dye. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and requires little to no skill. (Raise your hand if that sounds like you, Mom!) All you need are a few rubber bands, the colored dye or tie dye kit of your choice, and whichever textile you want to imprint with your unique tie dye patterns. You can each do your own colors and patterns or you can even attempt to create a mommy & me look.
Don’t remember how to tie dye? We don’t blame you. It’s been a while since our tie dyeing camp days of the 90s, too. Let’s start with a quick tutorial on how to tie dye a t shirt.
How to Tie Dye a T-shirt:
There are a few different tie dye patterns you can do. The spiral, stripes, rosettes, and the crinkle tie dye pattern are some of the most popular. (If you don’t have a specific tie dye pattern in mind, just slap some rubber bands on that sh*t and see what happens!)
Mostly or all white t-shirts work best. Prep your dye colors based on the tie dye kit’s instructions. For a more faded look, you’ll need more water than dye, but the best part about tie dyeing is that it’s totally customizable. Prefer bright colors? More dye, less water. You can either dye your t shirt dry (this will result in more separated colors) or wet (soak it in a bowl of lukewarm water and soda ash solution) to further the tie dye pattern’s spread.
Tie as many rubber bands as you want on your t shirt. The more rubber bands, the more pattern. Add the dye as you see fit. Once your t shirt is dyed, wrap it in a plastic bag and leave it out in the sun for anywhere from three to five hours (if you forget it overnight, that’s fine, too).
Remove the rubber bands and rinse the t shirt in cold water until the bulk of the dye runs out. Then, throw the tie dyed item in the washing machine, using cold water, and either wash it alone or with other items from this batch. Ready to get started? Check out these tie dye kits and essentials!
For hesitant moms who want to make the DIY tie dye process as easy as possible, S·E·I makes a non-toxic, pre-mixed, ready-to-use tie dye fabric spray. It requires no salts and no hot water, so you can let your kids go to tie dying town in the backyard while you catch up on the latest Real Housewives episode. No need to worry about the dye getting everywhere… It’s water-based and non-toxic, so it makes for an easy clean up, whether it ends up on your little one’s hands or on the grass outside. This tie dye kit comes with three mermaid-friendly colors that can dye anywhere from six to 12 shirts, depending how heavy-handed your kids are with the dye. These fabric spray bottles are assembled in the USA, easy to use (even for the tiniest of hands), and even after a few washes, your dyed items will retain their vibrancy.
Why stick to one color palette or theme when you can have ‘em all? Available on Amazon, Vanstek makes an epic 163-pack tie dyeing kit that will keep children preoccupied for hours. (You may even find yourself straying away from the computer; sure, you may be working from home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a little tie dye at the same time, right?!) Inside, you’ll find 20 vibrant colors in 60ml/each squeeze bottles that make dyeing low on the messy scale, 10 pairs of disposable plastic gloves, 120 rubber bands, 10 pieces of protective plastic film, two plastic table covers, and a step-by-step tie dye technique guide. With this kit, there’s no need for a soda ash soak; just simply add water, shake, and then squeeze. Each dye is non-toxic and acid-free, which makes this kit the perfect outdoor summertime activity for kids. Whether you’re looking for teal, mint green, fuchsia, or grape-green, this tie dye kit features the ultimate color assortment. No color combo is off limits!
You know the best part of taking on tie dye as your new summertime, family-friendly hobby, Moms? It doesn’t break the f***ing bank! For less than $20, you can breathe new life into just about any old t-shirt or pair of tube socks. Of course, not everybody loves the rainbow tie dye or bright neon look and we don’t want you to think that’s your only option. If you still want to DIY tie dye and rock the unique look later, you can opt for a more understated tie dye kit, like this Jacquard one available at Walmart. The jewel tones kit comes in four different hues – amethyst, emerald, ruby, and onyx – so you can still jump on the tie dye trend without looking like a rainbow snow cone. The Jacquard jewel tones kits work best with 100% cotton, linen, rayon, and hemp fabrics, and each kit dyes up to two shirts.
This fabric spray tie dye kit from SEI is all the fun of traditional tie dyeing… without the mess that loose colored dye can make. Each water-based, non-toxic, and washable fabric spray from SEI comes in a neon hue so bright, you will never have to worry about losing your little one in a crowd again, so long as they wear this tie-dyed masterpiece. The kit comes with a neon green, neon pink, and neon blue color, as well as stencils that make the fabric spraying and tie dye pattern design process simple. The clean-up is easy (thank you tie dye fabric sprays!), there are no nasty chemicals to worry about, and the whole family will love transforming their most boring white shirts, socks, and sweats into vibrant, tie-dyed creations that will have them standing out in their next class pic.
Not all tie dye designs are made with bright, rainbow colors reminiscent of unicorns and cotton candy. The ancient art of indigo dyeing has been around for like, ever and it’s still used today to give blue jeans their classic, authentic denim hue. Known as Shibori, it’s a Japanese dyeing technique that involves folding, twisting, bunching, and binding cloth, then dyeing it with the deep indigo hue. This kit comes with Indigo All-Purpose Dye, which works on just about every fabric – from cotton and linen to silk, wool, rayon, ramie, and nylon. RIT is also a trusted household name when it comes to dyeing, so you can feel confident working as the creative director of your tie dyeing masterpiece. Inside the kit, you’ll find everything you need to rock a DIY Indigo Shibori look: rubber bands, twine, squares, gloves, instructions, and ColorStay Dye Fixative that will reduce bleeding and fading on your designs.
The most traditional approach you can take to tie dye is the iconic rainbow sherbet look – AKA throw in every damn color of rainbow! This rainbow one-step kit from Tulip is perfect for group dyeing activities that involve the whole fam. After all, it’s one-step and provides enough dye (and materials) to design up to 30 do-it-yourself tie dye projects! Inside the kit you’ll find 5 rainbow dyes – yellow, magenta, blue, green, and violet – plus 5 refill packets, 8 pairs of protective gloves (to keep you and the kids mess-free!), 40 rubber bands, and instructions for 14 different tie dye techniques. From the classic festival tee (think the tie dye t-shirt your grandpa probably wore to Woodstock) to a blended watercolor technique for items like knapsacks and sneakers, tie dye with this rainbow Tulip kit and you’ll go from white to wow in just a few hours.
Traditional tie dyeing is a relatively long process. Sure, it takes minutes to outfit your t shirt with rubber bands and decorate it with your favorite color dyes, but it takes a long freaking while to dry (as long as five hours, depending on the strength of the sun). Reverse tie dyeing is a shorter process that results in a similar effect as traditional tie dyeing. Instead of dye, reverse tie dye uses bleach to take a boring, dark-colored t shirt to the next level. This Tulip Reverse Tie-Dye Kit provides instructions on how to use bleach to create spiral, crumpled, or bullseye tie dye designs. The kit comes with 3 pairs of protective, disposable gloves, 4 squeeze bottles containing color changer, and 30 rubber bands. The whole reverse tie dye process takes about 25 minutes – about the same length of the average child’s attention span for any do-it-yourself project. In less than a half hour, your old black tees, socks, and sweats will be transformed from boring to trendy.
One of the best tie dye kits available at Walmart is made by Jacquard, a trusted name in the tie dyeing industry for over 30 years. This all-inclusive kit provides everything you need to dye as many as 15 t-shirts (and other textiles that desperately need some designing). That’s a whole lot of tie dye shirts! It comes with pre-measured red, blue, and yellow dyes, but thanks to the science of the color wheel, Mama, the color blend opps are endless. Orange? Just combine red and yellow! Green? Mix blue and yellow! See? In addition to being a timeless boredom buster, tie dyeing is also educational! As you add the each squirt of non-toxic dye, teach your younger ones all about about color combinations. The kit also features soda ash dye fixer, 4 squirt bottles, rubber gloves, and rubber bands. The best part about this kit is that all you need is plain, lukewarm tap water to bring your designs to life.