For those who would like to try their hand at creating tie dyed t shirts here are the basic step by step instructions.

1. Choose a small tie dye kit from a craft/art supply store (this can be online here !) for a really quick start with everything you need in the box. A typical tie dye kit will include rubber gloves, rubber bands, soda ash, urea, some easy to follow instructions on how to create a few different tie dye patterns, and squeeze bottles with pre-measured dye you’ll only need to add a certain amount of warm water to.

Your other dye option is to buy single dye colors. These will include the amount of soda ash and urea they’ll need but the other items will have to be purchased separately.

When you mix your dyes with the urea, soda ash and water make sure you’re wearing a face/dust mask to keep from breathing in any of the dust to avoid developing any sensitivity toward the dye or lung damage from the soda ash. Wear gloves to prevent any skin damage.

2. Take any clean natural fiber t-shirt or shirt, old or new (if new, please launder first to remove any sizing) and soak it in the amount of soda ash (recommended on the dye package) and warm water for about 10 minutes. You can even add a few table spoons of salt, but be sure it’s dissolved before you add the shirt.

Squeeze or wring out the water well – its best for the t shirt to be damp, but too much water will cause poor dye absorption.

3. Apply whichever fold you have chosen for the particular tie dye pattern you want to put on your shirt. Keep the fold uniform and make sure your final spiral, spider or other spiral based designs; block (as in accordion fold designs), rope (as in heart, peace or bulls eye designs) or tubes (for striped patterns) are flat and even. Then secure your dye-ready shaped bundle with strong string or rubber bands.

4. Cover your work surface with a plastic sheet and get a shallow pan or tub ready with dye if you’re giving your shirt a dye bath. Put on some old clothes or a protective apron. Lay newspaper, paper towels or old towels under your ‘bundled’ shirt for speedy clean up afterwards and start applying your dye.

If you happen to be using more than one color dye, use your lighter color dyes before applying any darker ones to your pattern.

Placing the dye side down onto your newspapers or toweling and repeat your dye application to the reverse side.

5. Place your damp dyed bundle into a bag, remove as much air from the bag as you can and seal or tie it shut. Then put it in a warm place and let it rest for 24 to 36 hours.

The rule of thumb here is the longer you wait the stronger and brighter the colors will be.  However if you leave it for longer than 36 hours the dye colors could become a little blurry.

Before removing your gloves wipe them free of dye and, if you find you have any dye on your hands, wrists or arms, wash it off with Reduran.

6. After the waiting period, put your gloves back on; take your bundle out, remove the rubber bands and, unfold your shirt to see the pattern you’ve created. Then under a tap of running water rinse the excess dye out.

Don’t worry about the amount of dye that seems to be washing out of your shirt. The only dye that will be left behind is whatever bonded to the fibers of your shirt’s fabric and not what got stuck between the threads and layers!

Keep rinsing till the water is more or less clear  –  then wash (alone) in the washing machine two or three times with a little Synthrapol, then dry in the dryer. After following these last few steps on how to tie dye t shirts you can wash them with other colored garments.

 

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