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tie-dying American style

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With our European friends in town and the weather sunny and unseasonably cool, we decided it was a great time for our annual tie-dye extravaganza. Ursula had never tie-dyed before, and the last time Maia had tie-dyed was with us when she visited 3 years ago.

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We got out folding tables and old doors on sawhorses and taped down large, cut-open trash bags on top. We then covered that with old tablecloths. The tablecloths absorbed the excess dye that would have otherwise pooled on the plastic. A box of latex gloves were on hand for those who didn’t want to have stained, zombie-looking hands for the next week.

Through the year I buy and stockpile white items when I find them on sale: t-shirts, underwear, athletic socks, boxers, bandanas. White or gray t-shirts with logos work well too. Using the school colors, D#2 tie-dyed a white t-shirt printed with her high school logo.

Jacquard, the make of Procion dyes, provides a thorough set of instructions for tie-dying.  Another source of Procion dyes and tie-dying info and supplies is Dharma Trading.

Although all of the instructions say you need to prewash items, a tie-dye pro once told me this was unnecessary–he was right. So now I never prewash stuff. However, you do need to soak items in soda ash fixer (sodium carbonate) before you begin.

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After we folded, rubber-banded and dyed, we laid things out on cardboard, which absorbs the excess dye. In the past, the kids were so anxious to see their finished items that we would undo and rinse out everything a few hours later. This time, now that they are older and understand the concept of delayed gratification (a little bit?!), we convinced them that they really would get much better results if they waited til the next day. (I found take-home instructions  I will use the next time we tie-dye so people know what to do if they want to take their stuff home before rinsing.)

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My husband enjoyed embellishing the tablecloths with the leftover dye.

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The next day was the big reveal! We removed the rubber bands, filled a series of bins with water, and then rinsed the items repeatedly to remove the excess dye.

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At the top left, you can see how I swirled the t-shirt into a twist, secured it with rubber bands, and dyed it. Top right, the end result. The boxers are the work of D#2–we like the blue butt cheeks!

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We replenished our tie-dyed clothing stock, initiated Ursula into the fine art of tie-dying and had a wonderful weekend!

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4 thoughts on “tie-dying American style

  1. That looks like so much fun. Do you ever tie-dye quilting cottons?

    • No–but we are going to do another tie-dye session with my youngest daughter’s group of 8 friends in a couple of weeks, and I plan to do it then. I kind of want to have a plan in mind, so I am pondering a few design options. Any suggestions?

  2. Elisabeth on said:

    Your post is very inspiring! Thanks for visiting and liking my blog! Greatings from Vienna, Austria!

  3. This looks like so much fun. I haven’t tie-dyed since the 70s.

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