tie dye weekend

We’ve tie dyed several times before and most of the kids clothes they dyed last time are too small so it was time to do another round. We ordered some dyes, I picked ocean reminiscent colors and the kids picked a few colors they wanted to use and over the weekend we got to it.

Here’s some of what we’ve learned over the years:

Natural fiber dyes best. Synthetics will not hold dye. If something is a blend, 70% natural fiber will dye pretty well.

We wash everything so it is free of any chemicals/residue.

Then we soak it in soda ash water which allows the dye to really take hold.

Then we tie the cloth and dye it! Use rubber bands or zip ties to hold the fabric in place while you dye. There are lots of books and video tutorials that show how to fold and tie for different results.


We have squeeze bottles for the dye so we can get it where we want it.

Tie and dye outside. Dye stains! Use gloves and old clothes.

Tie the dyed items in separate bags to stew for 12-24 hours.

Wash out in cold, then warm water in sink, then put in hot wash cycle with synthropol detergent, a specific formula that washes extra (not set) dye out, leaving your designs light colors and patterns unmuddied.

Wash in small – medium size loads because more than that can be too much dye for the the wash cycle to remove and leave your fabrics muddy.

 Try traditional shibori designs, a set of Japanese fold and dye techniques that are quite beautiful and fun.

Some of the techniques we tried this time were fan fold, stripes, spiral, spider spiral, hearts, sunbursts, v fold, stars, mandalas, yin yangs. Stars were something new, as was a yin yang. We learned quite a bit! There are always some that come out in a totally different way than imagined, some better and some not as well appreciated but it’s such a fun process. Gavin’s favorite new design we tried was a yin yang.

Lilah’s was curved/diagonal stripes. Mine was stars/mandalas.

It was so much fun! The kids are already making requests for next time. After getting lots of excitement and input from friends and acquaintances, we are considering starting a small, for fun, business to sell tie dye. We’ll see. It would be a fun project to try, especially if the kids want to help.