Take the Art Outside: Tie Dying with Less Mess

Holly Duce
September 1, 2011

When the weather permits, it's fun to take craft time outdoors. Save the especially messy activities for just such days. Tie dying is perfect for a sunny afternoon. Here's what you'll need:

Something to dye: T-shirts can be purchased very inexpensively at crafts stores.  Pillow cases, socks, sheets and tablecloths are other items that are fun to dye.  Make sure your items are at least 60% cotton.

Something to tie: Rubberbands and string are most commonly used to create tie dye designs.

Dye: RIT dye is one of the cheapest and commonly found dyes.  You'll find it at crafts stores as well as grocery stores for less than $3 per box.

Rubber gloves: You'll want to protect your hands as the dye stains

Large buckets: You'll want one for each color you are using.  It should be large enough to fit 3-5 gallons of water

Tongs: A long stick or spoon would also work, but tongs are best.

Salt: Use salt with your RIT dye to make colors more vibrant.

Plastic or newspaper: Protect your work area by laying out plastic garbage bags. Add a few layers of newspaper on top of that to absorb drips and splashes.

First, set up your work space and prepare your dyes according to the package directions. Use a plastic garbage bag as an apron by cutting a hole in the bottom for your head and in the sides for your arms then just slip it on. Tie or rubberband your fabrics. Try different methods and styles to achieve different looks. When you are ready to start dying your fabric, don't forget to put on your gloves! Have fun experimenting but remember your primary colors: red and yellow make orange; red and blue make purple; blue and yellow make green. Any other combinations will likely result in brown.

By taking this project outdoors you'll save yourself from any accidents that could result in rainbow spotted carpet or purple and red streaked linoleum. The dyes are meant to be permanent. Avoid any mishaps by waiting to do this activity outdoors on a nice sunny day.


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