Tie dying is exactly what it says – you tie a piece of fabric then dye it! This is a real throwback to the groovy era of the 1960s but it dates back much further in to history! It is a good way to teach children about dyes and fabric. The traditional ‘spiral’ pattern is the most common and good fun, shown here, but once the principles of tie dying are mastered then you can experiment with other methods. The fun part is to see what comes out because it is all trial and error -sometimes the unexpected results are the best!
What You Need
- Plain material – T-shirts are ideal, however silk or cotton can be used
- Elastic bands or string
- Dyes appropriate to the fabric you are using
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic sheet & apron
It is best to do this activity outside to give children more freedom to experiment, as the dyes splash everywhere the focus of the activity should be on fun, not worrying about what might be damaged.
Moisten the fabric with clean water. Wring it out so it is not too wet.
The most common way is to grab a piece of material where you want the centre of the spiral to be. Twist the fabric round and round, then put several rubber bands around the fabric. Make sure the bands are spaced along the fabric and very tight. You can make as many or few spirals as you wish. Where the material is tied the dye won’t reach, so it will remain the original colour, or be a lighter colour.
Wearing rubber gloves now apply the dye to the fabric. You can dilute the dyes if they are water based or apply neat for a stronger colour. Because the fabric is moist the dyes will blend into each other.
You can remove the elastic bands and hang it out to dry or leave the fabric to dry with the bands on. If your fabric is dripping it may be best to leave to dry with the bands on so the dyes don’t run together. Opening the fabric is the fun part to see what patterns have been made. Some dyes require to be ‘fixed’ by ironing so remember to read the instructions on the packet or your next whole washing load will come out in the same colours!
Tip – remember you don’t need to go out and buy a new T-shirt to do this project. An old faded T-shirt can be used. Also it doesn’t have to be white, a light colour will take dye just as well but the colours might not be as vibrant. For example on a light pink T-shirt you would need to apply a strong red dye for the effect to show.
You can achieve dyed circles by using marbles. Place the marble in the fabric and gather the fabric underneath, then wrap an elastic band around it.
- Always supervise children with dyes.
- Always read the instructions on the dyes.