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How to Tie Dye - The Ultimate Guide

How to Tie Dye - The Ultimate Guide

We have all been locked inside our home for months now. As nannies, we are responsible for continuing our charges' education and giving them activities that are fun and safe. You and the kids have probably finished more than a dozen 1,000-piece puzzles, decorated cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, and baked all sorts of dishes. But now you're running out of ideas: "What next!?"

The lockdowns have spurred new trends, including tie-dyeing shirts! Tie-dye is a beautiful activity that lets nannies bond and interact with their children. Many think tie-dyeing shirts means making a lot of mess. However, that is not always the case. This activity is both relaxing and enjoyable. It also helps children develop their creative skills and introduces them to the arts and colours. 

What are the benefits of tie-dyeing with kids?

Tie-dye helps stimulate both sides of the children's brains, which helps in improving memory, coordination, and attention. It could also assist children in developing their fine motor skills, patience, and dexterity.

The activity teaches young kids to become more aware of the colors in their surroundings by taking notice of the shapes and colours they see all around them. It also introduces them to different shades and techniques to create their desired colours and designs. 

Check out our Harry Potter Scavenger Hunt here!

How do I tie-dye with kids without making a mess?

Tie-dyeing requires a lot of patience and steps. For starters, you'll need to gather supplies, which you can find online and in stores. Purchasing a tie-dye kit will make things easier for you and the children, mostly because they come with everything you need to complete the project. You also need to gather additional items, such as sealable plastic bags, trash bags, rain ponchos, and rain bottles. 

Before starting, you need to make sure that your t-shirts are washed and dried without using a fabric softener or dryer sheet as they prevent the dye from sinking in. Have the kids were their ponchos and gloves, then use trash bags or a plastic tablecloth to cover your work area. 


What materials do I need to tie-dye shirts?

  • Tie-Dye Kit

The Tulip One-step kit is perfect for beginners as it already includes bottles that have powdered dye in them. Add water and have the children shake the bottle to mix up the colours. 

Experienced tie-dyers can opt to use the Turmeric Dye kit from Etsy. This kit contains the basic materials needed for natural dyeing that can be used for up to 5 small projects. 

  • White shirt and other black canvasses

Tie-dyes work best on white-coloured shirts made of 100% cotton. However, you can always opt for a different hue. You can also use other materials like black tote bags, pillow covers, and handkerchiefs. 


  • Rubber Bands

Most tie-dye patterns rely on rubber bands, which means you'll have to get lots and lots of it. Typically, one shirt uses two to eight rubber bands. 

  • Latex Gloves

Latex gloves are much better than thin and oversized plastic gloves. However, some people are allergic to latex, which may cause itchy skin and other side effects. 


  • Old clothes or rain ponchos

Having the kids wear old clothes, or rain ponchos can be beneficial if they accidentally splash dye on themselves.


  • Plastic bags or trash bags

You need at least one trash bag per shirt plus one large bag to hold all of the shirts. You can use recycled, plastic grocery bags. 


  • Wire cooling racks 

What are the different patterns in tie-dyeing?

Bull's Eye Pattern

This design creates a beautiful ring-like structure of colours that resembles a target or a bulls-eye. Lay the T-shirt flat on the work surface and pinch the centre of the garment. Place two rubber bands, about 1 to 2 inches apart from the centre and each other. Continue applying rubber bands until the shirt resembles a log.  


Nebula Design

Take a tour in the cosmics by creating a Nebula tie-dye design. First, lay a wet shirt flat on a surface. Using your fingers, scrunch and wrinkle the fabric until it is gathered into a tight disk. Wrap several bands around the shirt. 

Note: The tighter you bind it, the more white area will show in the final shirt. 


Diagonal Stripe Pattern


The Diagonal Stripe Pattern is one of the unique tie-dye designs that you can do with the kids. To make it, lay the t-shirt flat and fold it accordion-style starting from the bottom corner—wrap rubber bands every 1 to 2 inches.


Sunburst Design

This spiral pattern took inspiration from how the sun looks like surrounded by its flares. To do this:

  1. Choose a spot in the centre of the shirt and twist the fabric clockwise using your thumb and forefinger.
  2. Create a shape that looks like a flat cinnamon roll.
  3. Wrap the shape tightly with rubber bands. 

Note: As with the nebula design, the tighter you bind the shirt, the more white there will be in the final look. 


Sailor Stripe Design

If you're tired of making groovy spiral and circles, this design will help you achieve the straight-line stripes inspired by sailors. Start by gathering the t-shirt at one side to create accordion-like folds that run vertically. Wrap a rubber band tightly around the shirt. If you want more stripes, add more rubber bands.