How to Tie Dye Stuff

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Tie dye is a fun, easy way to brighten your wardrobe. You can tie dye shirts, socks, sheets, underwear - anything, really!

Things You'll Need

  • White shirt (or whatever you're going to tie dye)
  • Dye packets (you can get them at WalMart or any craft store)
  • Bowls or squirt bottles (as many as you have colors of dye)
  • Water
  • Something to stir with
  • Gloves
  • Rubber bands or string
  • Newspaper or garbage bags to spread on the floor, if you're doing it inside
  • Make sure you have washed and dried the item you're dying, to make sure it's at the right size and free of impurities. Cover the floor with the trash bags or newspaper, or go outside, and make sure you're wearing old clothes and shoes you don't care about. Prepare the dye according to the instructions on the package, in bowls or bottles, whatever you prefer.

  • Here are some tying techniques! These will yield different designs, but keep in mind, no two attempts will come out the same. That's the great thing about tie dye - no one will ever know if you mess it up!

    Stripes: Gather your shirt up into a tube-like shape. You can twist it for lots of white wrinkles, or leave it as is. Strap rubber bands all the way down the tube. The more rubber bands you add, the more white stripes you will have when finished!

    Center Circle: For a centered circle on the front of the shirt, first lay the shirt out on a flat surface. Pinch a section right in the middle of the shirt and pull up toward you to make a tee-pee shape. Pull up more of the fabric for a larger circle. Close one hand around the base of the tee-pee and then tie it off with a rubber band. Twist the fabric you've sectioned off, and then add rubber bands down the length of it. The more rubber bands, the more circles.

    Many Small Circles: For lots of small circles, pinch up fabric about 2-3", insert a large marble (or Styrofoam ball) and tie it off with a thick rubber band or string so that the marble is secure.

    Sunburst: Tie off a marble as instructed above. Use your pinky to measure about ½ inch behind the last rubber band. Tie off two more sections about a pinky-width apart. Tie another section 1 finger width after the last one, and try the last one at two finger widths.

    Spiral: For a spiral design, simply pinch up a section in the middle of the shirt and twist it. Continue twisting until you have a spiral. Lay the spiral down on the shirt and curl the rest of the shirt around it like a tight nest. Take two large rubber bands and secure the nest so that it stays put.

  • Time to apply the dye! If you used bottles, go ahead and squirt the dye all over the shirt. Do it randomly, fill entire sections with one color, do whatever you want. If you used bowls, dip the shirt into the dye in sections. I'd recommend doing the lighter colors first in case it drips or runs. Make sure you saturate the fabric, and let it sit for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best. To keep the dye moist, wrap it in plastic wrap or a plastic bag.

  • Once the dye has set, wash out the excess. Rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear, and I would suggest washing it in the washing machine in hot water, with a hot rinse. It should be fine after that, but you might want to wash it by itself for the next few washings just to be sure.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't worry about making it look perfect - it's really difficult to produce a perfect tie dye, and that's really the great thing about tie dye. It doesn't have to be perfect to look totally awesome!
  • Wearing gloves is optional, but recommended. One time I used my hands in blue dye and it looked like I had gangrene for a week.
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