You know those tie-dye kits that come with "everything you need to dye" and usually cost around $20? They're great, right? I must admit that my tie-dye experience began with one of those kits. But eventually, dropping $20 every time I wanted to dye was hitting my wallet (I may or may not dye on a regular basis
). So, I made my own kit!
I'll admit that the initial gathering of supplies for your DIY kit might rival the store-bought kit in cost, but it will be far more cost-effective with multiple rounds of dyeing. Here's what I start with:
Squirt bottles and commercial powdered dye. I'm using RIT for this tutorial because it's cheap and easy to find. I've also used Dylon and Tulip brands (Dylon is probably a personal fave). If you use fiber reactive dyes, you'll need to add a soda-ash soaking step that I skip here.
Start by adding 1-2 T dye to your bottles. I like to do this outside with lots of fresh air so I don't breathe in the powder. Wearing a mask is also a good idea. With RIT, I've found that for lighter colors you'll need more powder in your bottles (~2 T), or the color will just wash out. Darker colors are usually ok with less (~1 T).
Once you've got the powder safely in the squirt bottles, add HOT water. The water heater in my house is set ridiculously high, so I just let the water run until it's steaming and then fill 'um up! Shake to dissolve all the powder and you're ready to go!
A note on the bottles: Store-bought dye kits tend to have "needle nose" bottles. These give you increased precision when applying dye. Generally, I'm ok with a less-precise look, but if you want more control over your dye, look for a pointier tip on your squirt bottles.
Now, for the "tie" portion of our program. I did basic spirals for this project to keep things simple, but there are TONS of resources out there for different tying techniques. I did wet my shirts prior to dyeing to help the dye penetrate the shirt. It's not necessary, as I have had success with dry shirts/fabric as well.
Lay your shirt out on a clean, flat surface (if wet, a plastic bag under the shirt will help protect whatever surface you're working on):
Pinch the center with your index finger and thumb and twist the entire shirt around that point.
Rubber band the heck out of it.
Now you're ready to dye! I like to dye on an old cooling rack placed over a bucket. The rack keeps the dye from pooling around the shirt as you dye and the bucket catches the excess.
Using your squirt bottles, apply different color dye to each "triangle" of the tied shirt. Repeat until all your material has been covered in color.
When finished, place the shirt on newspaper to soak up any excess dye.
After about 30-60 minutes, transfer the shirts to plastic bags and store in a dry, warm place for 12-24 hours. I set them near the heater in the basement.
After the agonizing wait is over, rinse out the shirts with cold/warm water until the water runs clear (or until you've had enough squeezing
you can admire your work now, but know that it will change slightly post-wash. I throw the shirts right into the washing machine without detergent in cold water. If I have something with a very different color scheme, I'll wash it separate just to keep the colors from melding in the washer. You'll notice post-washing that the excess dye does tint the white spots on the shirt with this method. If you want to keep the white white, make sure your water runs clear before washing and wash each shirt by itself. With RIT/Dylon/Tulip, you might still get some color bleed in the machine, just a heads up. You can either line dry or machine dry your shirts after they go through the washer.
Now you can enjoy your work!
Thanks for looking! Hope you try this at home!