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Tie One on With the Kids

Tie-dying is a great outdoor summer craft activity, suitable for all ages.

Believe it or not, the kids and I tie-dye pretty much every summer as school approaches. I know that it might seem like a bizarre end of summer tradition, but to each his own, right?

One reason I, as a mom, enjoy the pre-school tie-dye is the chance to breathe some new life into T-shirts that might be needed in the opening weeks of school but don’t quite make the grade for school attire because of a stain or two or a fading decal. Add a bit of tie-dye pizzazz to said shirts and viola, you have some vibrant new duds suitable for the heat of Indian summer, without investing in new T-shirts that will surely be too small by spring.

The kids, I would suppose, like tie-dyeing because we do it out in the yard, we typically do it with a group of friends and it’s both messy and creative at the same time.

In its simplest terms, tie-dyeing consists of folding, twisting and knotting or otherwise tying a fabric item and then dunking it into various colors of dye. For your first time out, I recommend checking out tie-dye kits at a large craft supply store. In my experience, the instructions included within will get you through the project relative unscathed.

For the more adventuresome, seeking out online instructions like those on about.com and buying various colors of RIT dye will also do the trick.

No matter what approach you take, tie-dyeing requires a pretty straightforward list of supplies, beyond the item or items you will be tie-dyeing, which I have included here. I have also made some notes of caution based on past tie-dying faux pas.

Basic Supplies

  • Rubberbands
  • Dye
  • Rubber gloves – Pay heed here. The first time we tie-dyed I didn’t make the boys put on gloves and their hands were tie-dyed for weeks.
  • Large pot or bucket – Able to hold 3-5 gallons of water and OLD, so you don’t care if it gets stained, because it will.
  • Something long to stir with – An old wooden spoon, or even long wooden paint stirrers. Again something that you don’t care about staining
  • Plastic bag – Some dyes require the item to stay in a bag for 24 hours. At the very least, bags are good for transport if you are tie-dyeing with friends.

Keep in mind that certain dyes, like RIT, require additional supplies such as soda ash or salt, so be sure to read packages before you head home.

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