How to Make a Tie Dye Cross Shirt

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Things You'll Need

  • Cotton T-shirt

  • Pen

  • Needle

  • Thread

  • Dye kit with squirt bottles

  • Rubber bands

  • Buckets

  • Rubber gloves

Image Credit: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Tie dye T-shirts have been popular since the 1960s. There are dozens of methods of tying and dying a shirt, but one of the more attractive ways is to make the dye outline a shape, such as a cross. The cross is in the center of the shirt front, and all of the rainbow colors radiate outward from the central piece. The design looks intricate and complicated, but is actually very simple with one small trick to create the entire look.


Step 1

Lay the T-shirt out on a flat surface with the front of the shirt facing up. Use the pen or a marker to draw the outline of a cross on the front of the shirt. Use a ruler or other tools if you are not sure of your freehand drawing skills.

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Step 2

Thread the needle with strong cotton thread. Double the thread and make a knot. Sew along the line that you have drawn to create the cross. Use large stitches, sewing along the entire cross outline until you meet back at where you began.


Step 3

Pull the thread where it was sewn to the shirt, gathering the T-shirt fabric along the thread. Make sure that all of the body of the cross is outside of the gathered part, and the rest of the shirt is on the other side of the gather. You will have a shapeless pinched area with a small amount of shirt on the left and the rest of the shirt on the right. If it seems to be loosening, pull the gathering tight again and tie a knot in the thread to hold it secure.


Step 4

Wrap a wide rubber band around the shirt where the thread is gathered. Make sure that the band is very tight against the shirt.

Step 5

Gather the remaining part of the shirt into a long, bunched group of cloth. Begin at the rubber band that you have already placed, and put another rubber band around the shirt about 2 or 3 inches down. Continue adding rubber bands until you are near the end of the shirt. You will now have a scrunched up shirt with rubber bands holding it together every few inches.


Step 6

Mix up the ash and water presoak from your tie dye kit in a bucket. Put your shirt into the bucket, taking care not to disturb the rubber bands. Leave the shirt in the soaking water for at least 10 minutes, or the length of time indicated in your kit instructions.

Step 7

Pull the shirt out of the bucket after it is done soaking and wring it out to remove most of the moisture. The dryer that the shirt is at this point, the clearer the lines will be in your design. A damper shirt means that the colors will blend into each other more.


Step 8

Mix up the colors in the squirt bottles according to the directions in your kit. Make sure to wear rubber gloves, as this dye is permanent.

Step 9

Squirt the dye onto the part of the shirt that you pulled from the gathering, which will be the center of the cross when the design is finished. Squirt a different colored dye onto each successive section of the shirt, between each rubber band.


Step 10

Follow your kit instructions for soaking, rinsing and washing out your shirt. When you are instructed to remove the rubber bands from the shirt, remove the thread that held the gathers, as well.


This method can be used to make a tie dye shirt with any outline shape you desire. Hearts and shamrocks are popular patterns, as is a Mickey Mouse head when you're going on a Disney vacation.


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