After three round of tie-dying with my daughters, we’ve pretty much nailed down all of the things NOT to do and things we would do different next time. We made our share of mistakes as newbies and I would love to share them with you so we are all better off. Here we go:
1. Prewash your shirts. Or at least use a wet shirt. You can kind of see in the picture above that the dye isn’t absorbing as well and running down the fabric. This was our second day of dying and we just flat out forgot to do it.
The good news is that if this happens to you, there is a work around. We waited the recommended 6-8 hours, then rinsed, squeezed out and put back in the bag for several more hours. It worked! A wet shirt really is necessary to achieve the more graduated pretty watercolor effect.
2. Use a shower curtain or tarp. As you can see in the above pic we used a shower curtain to place under us. We also worked outside. I’ll be honest, tie-dying is messy. The more systems you have in place to prevent messes the more fun you’ll have!
3. Use the gloves they provide. Otherwise your hands will look like mine. It took two days for this to wear off.
4. Use a fork. When you’re doing the spiral technique, using a fork can help keep the spiral tight. Just place in the center, then twist. You can use your hands to guide the rest of the twisting, as shown.
5. Rubber band placement doesn’t have to be perfect. We did some spiral shirts where we were super careful and some where we weren’t and all of the shirts turned out nice.
I will say if you are wanting to achieve a certain pattern, it will be more important for you to divide into sections, almost like a pizza.
6. Flip it over! If you forget this your shirt will look half done. Once you’ve applied die to both sides, THEN you can bag.
7. Use gallon sized ziploc bags. Once you have finished dying, if you buy the popular Tulip brand like we did, it comes with a box for you to place your shirts in. We wanted to do multiple projects at once, and ziplocs let us do this. They work great.
9. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear. After waiting the 6-8 hours for the color to set. The directions say to keep rinsing the shirt until the water runs clear. We did this, and machine washed and dried as instructed and still I ended up with two light blue towels in my next day’s load that were formally white. I would say, when you think you’re done rinsing, keep rinsing. And maybe machine wash twice!
10. Experiment with other techniques. We tried the technique pictured above and it was more of a true tie-dye. We used kitchen twine.
The coolest thing about tie-dye, is that matter what you do, or how many mistakes you may make, your project will still be a cool surprise in the end.