How to Tie-Dye T-shirts

One of the favorite activities at Summer Spree Camp and at our Fine Arts and Crafts Festival is tie-dyeing t-shirts so today I’d like to give some instructions on how to tie-dye.  Tie-dyeing involves folding material into a pattern and wrapping it with rubber bands then applying different color dyes to some parts of the material which creates a colorful design. You can tie-dye just about anything from cotton baseball caps to aprons to sheets and it is fun for children and adults alike!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

100% cotton t-shirts

Rubber gloves

Buckets, dish tubs or wash tubs for as many different color dye bowls you want to make

A minimum of two colors fabric dye

Rubber bands


  1. Soak shirt in hot water to make it easier to dye. Pinch or twist up a section of the wet shirt and wrap it with a rubber band.  If dye comes with soda ash, dissolve it in a tub of water and soak the shirt in it for 20 minutes. 
  2. Put on gloves and prepare each dye color in a bucket or tub according to package directions. 
  3. For a multi-color design, place one part of the shirt in each individual color for 15 minutes each.  Rinse extra dye out of the shirt before moving to a second color. Leave the shirt in the dye longer if you prefer a darker shade.  When all desired colors are added, remove rubber bands and rinse the shirt with warm then cool water until all dye comes out of fabric and the water runs clear.
  4. Wash the shirt separately in a washing machine’s cold water cycle and hang it to dry.  It’s a good idea to wash separately after each wear in case the dye continues to run.

Do you have any tips for successful tie-dyeing? I’d love to hear them.


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