Need an escape? Then take a moment to enjoy doing something fun for the sake of fun like tye-dye. Grab a shirt, socks and food coloring and throw a tye-dye party. (As featured on Good Morning Texas.)
Wish you could just get carried away to a place with rainbows and flowers? Yes, we all do. The 60s and 70s were full of fun, flowers and love – and all that cool jazz. It was a time well before the word COVID was mainstream on Facebook (or it’s creator) was even a concept. And best of all everyone can create and celebrates a little peace and love of their own.
Here we show you how to create a fun, an at-home activity with (or without the kids.)
Supplies for Tye-Dye with Food Coloring
- Shirt (you can also use socks, aprons or anything you want)
- Food coloring
- White Vinegar (need at least 4 cups to soak the shirts)
- Rubber bands
- Bottles for the dye (I like squirt bottles, but you can use spray bottles.)
- Pan and rack (to protect your space and catch excess water)
- Plastic bag (Old grocery bag or large gallon ziplock)
- Bucket / sink (need at least have 2-gallons of water)
- Cover for table (optional)
- Gloves (kitchen gloves work great but something to completely cover your skin and nails
- Old clothes / apron (to protect your clothes from the dye)
Already feel overwhelmed or just want to get it all together for you? Yes, there’s a kit for that. We’ve used this one for parties (it works for more than 15 shirts) and is pretty cheap!)
Instructions How to Tye-Dye
1. Prepare your work space for tye-dye.
Make sure to prepare your workspace with a cover, put on an apron or old clothes to protect your own clothes and GLOVES. (Yes, you need gloves, especially when working with food coloring!
2. Prep your tye-dye.
Make sure your shirt (or item) is clean and also has either been soaked in a solution of 1:1 water to vinegar for 20 minutes (or soda ash fixer.) Ring it out but don’t rinse, because you’re going need to have your shirt damp to dye.
3. Prep your supplies.
This is where it might get a little messy, so if you haven’t already – PUT ON THE GLOVES. I like this activity near a sink (or near grass so it doesn’t matter if you make a mess.) If you are using fabric dye, then refer to the instructions but using food coloring, you’ll want to use a solution of 1/2 cup warm water to 8 drops of food coloring. This should be more than enough since a large 12 ounce bottle. Close the top and shake it up.
Tye-Dye Solution: 1/2 cup water to 8 drops of food coloring into bottle.
4. Design your tye-dye.
Also you’ll want to decide what type of design you want. There are no wrong ways to tye-dye so you can do whatever you want. Some of the most popular are the swirl, accordion or bullseye. This step is where you’ll put those rubber bands to work. For our how-to we’re going with the most popular swirl (mostly because I get to put a dinglehopper to work (give yourself 5 points if you know that references.) But we have some suggestions for you (and a great how t0 in the video below.)
How to Design Your Tye-Dye
5. Let’s tye-dye.
This is the fun part. Once you’ve prepped your area (this is where I like to use a pan and rack as my area to do the dye and catch the residual dye), prepped the shirt and put on gloves, let’s dye! Start by adding solution in areas in each section. For the swirl we did each section, alternating in three colors and making sure to get into crevices to get color. Don’t worry – have fun and definitely don’t skimp on the dye. The more color, the more color on the shirt. Make sure also to repeat color on the back of the shirt! HAVE FUN – throw on some music and take your time!
6. Let the tye-dye set.
Once complete, keep the rubberbands on and put the shirt in the plastic bag to dry. Somewhere between 5 hours – to overnight.
7. Dry the tye-dye.
Once it’s dry, remove the rubberbands. Note: the shirt won’t be as bright as it seems when you remove those rubberbands but that’s ok! Then rinse it out a few times in the sink with cold water until it runs clear. (You can do the bucket again, but the sink is so much easier.) Then before you wear it, you’ll want to dry it by itself so the colors don’t rub off (it might be a few times you’ll need to wash it by itself, just in case!)
TIP: If you really are a visual person or need a little more assistance (or just like a good video), here’s one of my favorites. However, there are tons of videos online to help you create the perfect tie-dye.
Looking for more fun? Here are some great activities with food coloring from our friends at Modern Mom Life!