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How to Tie Dye: Fun Tie Dye Crafts to Make with Your Kids

How to Tie Dye: Fun Tie Dye Crafts to Make with Your Kids

A step-by-step guide on how to make some fun some tie dye creations with your kids!

My girls love tie dye- And it makes my grew-up-in-the-90s heart happy! 

Tie dye t-shirts, which are both easy and fun to make, take me back to summer camp in Wisconsin when we would teach kids to tie dye everything from socks to t-shirts during their craft course at sleepaway camp. I was a pro at taking a cheap white t-shirt and turning it into something fun and funky to wear. 

So when my oldest asked me if we could make something cool this summer, I knew exactly the project to undertake with my girls. I would teach them to tie-dye! T-shirts, shoes, bags, bandanas, you name it, we plan to tie-dye it! When it comes to creating tie dye art, you can think outside the box! 

Tie-Dye Patterns To Try

Supplies you will need: 

  • Items to tie dye: socks, headbands, t-shirts, towels, anything really! 
  • Fabric dye (as many or as few colors as you would like!) 
  • Rubber bands 
  • Rubber gloves 
  • Old towels (for clean-up/stains) 

How To Create A Spiral Tie-Dye 

  • You will start by tying up your shirt (it is best if the shirt is damp but not wet!) in a spiral. Start in the very middle of the garment by placing your hand at as close to center (or the part where you want the center of your tie dye to be) as you can locate. 
  • Twist the shirt clockwise to wind the shirt into a circle. 
  • Bind the shirt in its new circular form with rubber bands as tightly as possible. Use as many or as few rubber bands as you want. The rubber bands should be placed all the way across the shirt, dividing the shirt into “slices” the way you might slice a pizza or a pie. 
  • Color each slice with the dye of your choice. You can color each slice or leave a few slices white if you choose. 
  • Let the shirt soak like this for multiple hours. The longer you soak the shirt, the darker your colors will be. If you want pastel colors, let it soak for five or six hours. If you want dark, rich colors, let the shirt soak for up to 24 hours. 
  • If the shirt needs to be transported before it is dry, no worries! Simply place it in a plastic bag but be careful to not let the colors touch one another. Optionally, you can wrap the shirt in cellophane before you place it in the bag. I’ve had many shirts come home from camp with my girls in this manner! 
  • Once the shirt has sat long enough, rinse it under cold water until the water is clear.  
  • Launder your shirt- by itself!- in the washing machine or by hand and then dry in the dryer.  
  • Voila! You’ve created an awesome tie dye shirt! If you need a visual to help you create your tie dye shirt, check out this great tutorial.  

How To Create Heart Tie-Dye 

For a fun twist on tie dye, create a heart tie dye t-shirt or bag! This one requires all the above materials, plus a white chalk pen. 

  • Start with your white t-shirt, damp but not wet, folded in half length-wise. 
  • Use your white chalk pen to draw half a heart on your folded shirt. This heart can be as big or as small as you want it. 
  • After you’ve drawn your heart, you are going to pleat the fabric to get the outline of the heart to form a straight line.  
  • Once you have pleated all the fabric so that the shirt is folded small and the heart is lined up in a straight line, place a rubber band over the outline of the heart. You will dye this portion of the fabric whatever color you choose. 
  • You can then put a rubber band or two on the rest of the pleated fabric to make as many rings around the heart as you want. 
  • Dye each ring of fabric a different color. 
  • Let the shirt sit for up to 8 hours for a pastel shirt or up to 24 hours for darker colors. 
  • Rinse the shirt until the water runs clear, launder and you are ready to go with your new heart shirt! 
  • If this process is confusing, check out a great tutorial here!  

Fun Summertime Tie-Dye Craft Ideas to do with Kids 

No need to limit yourself to just the spiral tie-dye technique. Once you’ve mastered that, think outside the box to dream up other fun projects to create with the kids.  

Striped Tie-Dye Towel 

Create a fun towel for your kids to bring to the pool or the beach with stripes of tie dye! 

  • Pleat the towel horizontally or vertically, depending on which way you want the stripes to be oriented. 
  • Rubber band the pleated towel at intervals. Wide intervals will make thick stripes, narrower intervals will make skinnier stripes. 
  • Dye each intervals a different color and let the towel dry.  
  • Rinse, launder and take your new towel to the pool! 

Watermelon Sugar Tie-Dye Summer Tote  

Make colorful watermelon tote that your kids can use to take goodies to a friend’s house for a sleepover or tote goggles and sunscreen to and from the beach this summer. 

  • Scrunch a damp white tote bag vertically and place rubber bands every few inches up and down the bag. 
  • Dye the bottom two or three sections with green dye and use pink dye to change the color of the remainder of the bag pink. 
  • Let the dye dry (less time for lighter colors, more time for darker colors), rinse and launder the bag. 
  • Using a black fabric marker or black permanent marker, draw a few “seeds” on the pink part of the watermelon. Feel free to add a cute saying, too, and show off your cute new watermelon bag! 

Sharpie Tie-Dye Shoes 

This project is super fun and slightly less messy than other tie-dye methods because it uses permanent markers in place of fabric dye. Simply grab a pair of white sneakers, permanent markers (like Sharpies) in lots of colors, and rubbing alcohol. 

  • Remove the laces from the shoes. 
  • Let your child draw colorful starbursts on the shoes with Sharpies or other permanent markers. Use multiple colors and feel free to let all the colors overlap.  
  • Once your child has added all the color they want, use a spoon or dropper to drop rubbing alcohol onto the different color bursts. Your child will love watching the rubbing alcohol go to work blending and spreading the colors around the shoes. 
  • Let the shoes dry for 24 hours. Put the laces back in and go play in your new shoes! 

What tie-dye creations will you make with your kiddos this summer? 

About The Author

Stephanie Jarrett

"Stephanie Jarrett is passionate about all things: family, parenting, travel, and budget-friendly tips. As a Texas-transplant and girl mom of three, she’s a resident expert for ApartmentTherapy.com, Pearachute Kids, Hawaiian Falls, OKC Tourism Board, Livie & Luca, Mox Shoes, Arlington CVB, many more. When she isn’t on a road trip with her three girls, exploring museums, parks and more, she’s probably curled up on the couch with the latest NYT bestseller and a glass of red wine. Follow her adventures in Dallas/Fort Worth and beyond at EverythingArlingtonTX.Blogspot.com.

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