Tips for Tie Dying with Kids

Tips for Tie Dying with Kids

To me, summer is all about crafting and fun…and tie dye! Whether you’re having a birthday party or Grandma is hosting a “Grand Camp” for her grandkids, tie dying tee shirts is a great way to make memories and have a fun memento! Here are a few tips for tie dying with kids and kids at heart, because let’s face it, you’re never too old to tie dye!

Funny faces

Gather Your Tie Dying Supplies

Here’s a list of what I found works best, but we would love to hear if you have any ideas to add to our list!

Tie Dying supplies
Shirt Type

100% Cotton Tee Shirts are recommended. Tees containing blends of materials will not hold the dye as well.

Protective Coverings

It’s essential to protect your tables and your clothing! For table coverings, I bought the cheap ones from the dollar store since I knew that we would likely not reuse them. Alternatively you can cut up trash bags.

I also recommend trays or bins for each person. We used round trays. You can also get bins at the dollar store. I highly recommend this to contain each person’s project so dye won’t leak everywhere.

Paper towels. Tie Dying is messy!! We had paper towels on hand to mop up the extra dye between colors.

Be sure to wear old clothes when tie dying. This is sort of self explanatory, but should be mentioned!

And a little forgotten item…hair ties! There’s nothing like getting that first squirt of dye on your shirt and then having your hair fly in your eyes. Kids trying to get hair out of their faces with dye on their gloves can lead to disaster quickly! Be prepared!!

Dye Kits

I recommend buying the whole kit if you’re doing this for the first time. We love the Tulip kits. They have all of the basic supplies for tie dying and some fun online ideas to make a tie dye party super fun! Our kits contained rubber bands, gloves, dye and instructions. My tip if you’re working with younger kids is to buy the kid sized gloves. They are sold separately and are inexpensive, but well worth the money!

Post Dying Supplies

Right after we finished dying each shirt, we quickly placed them in gallon sized zip top bags and sealed them. The shirts need to stay wet for 6-8 hours for the dye to set. Have these handy before you begin!

The Most Important Supply…Patience!

I remind my kids each time we do this that it’s not going to be perfect, but it will be fun and cool to see how the colors look next to each other and how some blend together. I found that it was best to help the kids first and then tie dye my shirt after!

Let’s Discuss How to Make Tye Dying Fun!

Happy kids in tie dyed shirts

The key is to be prepared! If you have all of the above mentioned supplies at your fingertips, then the tie dying process is sure to be a memorable one!

Go with the flow – literally! If the dye comes out too much or on the wrong spot, go with it! I remind my kids constantly that it’s going to be fabulous and interesting no matter where the colors end up!

Our kit came with examples of how to place the rubber bands on the shirt to get certain effects. Have this handy – or look on the internet for examples. Swirls, stripes and crumple are our favorite, easy designs.

Be mindful of the color wheel and which colors will blend together beautifully and which will not combine so nicely! I was never so technical that I had the color wheel in front of us, but I did remind the kids that red and blue made purple, etc.

Wet the shirts before applying the dye! Trust me! Applying dye to a dry shirt is a disaster and the dye will just run off. Soaking the shirts in soda ash helped the dye to be more vibrant. I don’t feel like this is 100% necessary, but I did notice a difference.

Let the dye set the appropriate time. Leave the rubber bands on the shirt while the dye sets. My eager beavers wanted to take them off, but I feel like it’s better when they stay on. I usually leave our shirts to set over night just to be safe!

Be ready to rinse, and rinse and rinse some more! Honestly, this is the boring part that I usually do myself. But for the big reveal, when I remove the rubber bands, I call the kids over and have them ooooooh and aaaaaaah at their creativity! This, to me, is the most fun part!

You can also add a vinyl design with your Cricut or Silhouette machine to have a really memorable souvenir!

Happy family with tie dyed shirts

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