Let me begin by stating that I have never really liked the look of tie dye. Because I am not a big fan (that is kind of an understatement) of tie dye, I have never tried it. When we first started dating Christopher had what felt like hundreds of tie die Grateful Dead concert T's. Over the years they have met with some unfortunate laundry mishaps. "Oh no, your shirt has a hole in it! I can't even repair it where it's ripped" wink. "Oh no, somehow that stray cat somehow got your Grateful Dead shirt off of the clothes line and has had kittens in it. I feel so badly" wink. You get the drift.
Last year as Gracie's end of the year class project, her grade 6 class all made tie dye t-shirts and signed them. Her shirt was really cute. Maybe age was wearing me down, but maybe I don't hate tie dye after all.....
I decided that it would be fun for the kids to make their own Halloween shirts. We have done valentines shirts before http://themiddleagedwomanwholivedinashoe.blogspot.ca/2012/02/easy-peasy-homemade-t-shirts.html
This Halloween we would try our hands at tie dye. For this project I would need help, Youtube help.
This video was really helpful. Maybe I could do tie dye. I decided to jump in with both feet. Why do easy ordinary tie dye for the first time, heck no. No, we would do skull heads and pumpkin heads!
I went to my local craft store and bought white T-shirts on sale, and black dye and orange dye. Did I mention that I had in addition to never making tie dye, never mixed dye. In for a penny, in for a pound!
The store had "Tie Dye kits". The kits included two or three small packages of dye (you did not get much of a colour choice) and a clear plastic bottle, as well as plastic gloves and elastics. It was great for the beginner, but packed a pretty good price tag of over $20.00... no thanks. I would just manage the old fashioned way!
I read and then re-read the dye instructions. Man that made a lot of dye. One small package of dry mix when added to boiling water and a quarter cup of salt made a gallon of dye. For you Canadians, a gallon is the equivalent to a large bucket of paint. I also learned that it's good that I have lots of wooden spoons, because now I have a jet black one (as well as jet black fingertips. Ya there's a reason why they suggest using gloves)!
I had several empty ketchup and mustard dollar store bottles in my cupboard. I had used them to make fancy letter pancakes for the kids. They worked great to help control the dye. With the use of latex gloves, the ketchup bottles and the broiler tray, there was actually minimal mess. I also had a roll of paper towels sitting right beside us on the kitchen table (the kitchen table that I had covered in plastic).
Grace wanted to go old school with her tie dye. She did not want a skull or pumpkin shape. She just covered her white T in elastics and dyed each spot. The little guys wanted skulls and Elly wanted a pumpkin. We followed the instructions from the video. I washed the new t-shirts with detergent, but no fabric softener. I did not dry them, because for tie dye the shirts need to be damp, don't ask me why. I folded the T-shirt in half, penciled on the face shape, and then pleated the material and put a big elastic on it. We then rolled the shirts into a spiral and the kids squirted them with dye. It was surprisingly easy. The kids all loved it.
When the kids had finished their shirts, I carefully put them into a plastic bag and let them sit for 6 hours (like the youtube video said to do). 6 hours later I pulled them out of the bag, just as wet as I had put them in. I very carefully took the elastics off and marveled at how great they looked! It was raining that day, so we could not put them outside on the clothesline.
I had a stroke of genius (not). I decided to put the T-shirts on hangers and hang them from the shower rod to dry over night. Oh in theory this was soooo cleaver. The reality was they dripped black fabric dye all over my tub, and my "white" shower mat (it's now cow print). I wonder if bleach will take that out?
The next day the shirts were all dry, and we were ready for the next step. The Youtube video had used the fabric dye to make the faces. That seemed to risky to me. Instead I mixed my fabric medium with equal parts of my acrylic craft paint. I cut stencils out of bristol board for the faces (don't judge me, no one ever said that I was a good artist).
The kids really loved stenciling on the faces. It was fun for me to watch the looks of concentration on their faces. It was also an exercise in restraint on my part not to grab the brush and stencil out of their grubby little hands and do it myself.
I am really pleased with how well the shirts turned out. They really are very good, especially given that this was some of our first tries at tie dye. I was disappointed that the colours had really faded when they dried, but they still looked great. Next time I will cut the water to dye ratio in half and see if it strengthens the colour. You notice how I said "next time". I now want to tie dye everything! It's really fun. I think my next project will be to try tie dying with bleach!
Tie dye was a really fun way to spend a rainy day. It really wasn't messy like I had feared that it would be. The results are great! The kids feel really proud to wear their new shirts, knowing that they designed them. It was a real win win. If you find yourself with some time, and some really boring white T-shirts, why not try Tie Dye.