How to Make Multi-Colored Tie-Dye Shirts

Create a tie-dye sunburst using marbles and rubber bands.
Create a tie-dye sunburst using marbles and rubber bands. (Image: tie dyed green image by Steve Mann from Fotolia.com)

Bring a bit of the 1960s back by making your own tie-dye shirts. You can make them with just one dye color but for a truer tie-dye, go with several different colors. The type of dye you use will determine how you color your shirts. Get creative by using different sizes and widths of rubber bands, marbles and even by mixing the colors on the shirt.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth or painter's plastic
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Dye
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Face mask
  • Soda ash solution
  • Measuring utensils
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Water
  • Rubber bands
  • Laundry detergent
  • Marbles

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Preparation

Set up an area for tie-dying the shirts. Place a drop cloth or painter's plastic on the ground. If possible, do this outside.

Put on your gloves and mix the dyes according to package directions.

Place each colored dye into its own plastic squirt bottle. Set these aside.

Make a soda ash solution if using a washfast dye. If you're using an all-purpose dye, skip this step. Wear a mask and gloves when preparing the soda ash. Mix 1 cup of soda ash fixer per 1 gallon of warm water. Soak a garment that's already been tied off in the soda ash solution for five to 15 minutes, until the solution is absorbed.

Spiral Effect

Lay your shirt flat on a flat surface. Pinch the center of the shirt and start twisting it into itself until it's a tight ball.

Secure the ball shape with rubber bands.

Squirt one color of dye onto the shirt. Repeat with any other colors you want on the shirt.

Let the dye sit in the shirt for 15 to 20 minutes.

Rinse the shirt, with the rubber bands still attached, in cool water until the water runs clear.

Remove all the rubber bands and wash the shirt in warm water, then rinse it in cool water. You can usually do this in a washing machine, but read the dye package instructions for more specific washing directions.

Let the shirt air dry or in a clothes dryer.

Lines and Circles

Tie off areas of the shirt with rubber bands to create different patterns.

Place a marble on the inside of the shirt and tie it off with a rubber band. This will create a circle effect.

Put several marbles inside the shirt and tie each one off with a rubber band to create a sunburst effect.

Squirt the tied-off shirt with dyes, then rinse and wash as described.

Tips & Warnings

  • Start with the lightest color when dyeing with more than one color.

References

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