If your little ones are obsessed with all things tie dye like my daughter, and you’re interested in learning how to make tie dye shirts at home, this post is a great place to start! With so many beautiful tie dye patterns to choose from, and tons of different DIY techniques you can try using materials you probably already have at home, tie dyeing is a great weekend activity you can enjoy with children of all ages. You can use nontoxic materials like food coloring and Kool Aid with younger kids, and experiment with more traditional techniques using traditional dye and bleach with older children, creating unique clothing for the whole family.
If you’re ready to learn how to make tie dye shirts, keep reading for our favourite tips, techniques, and tutorials!
4 Beginner Tie Dye Patterns
The first step in learning how to make tie dye shirts is to choose a pattern. There are so many different tie dye styles to choose from, which can be overwhelming. If you want a few beginner options to experiment with, here are 4 simple patterns that produce beautiful tie dye shirts.
CRUMPLED TIE DYE
This is probably the easiest tie dye pattern for beginners, and it results in a beautiful, splotchy design. To create this look, lay your shirt flat, and then twist, turn, and crumple the fabric until you end up with a flat, disc-shaped piece of material. Secure everything in place with several rubber bands, and then squirt your dye as desired. You can use one color, or several – the sky is the limit!
CLASSIC SWIRL TIE DYE
If you want to know how to make tie dye shirts, this classic swirl look probably comes to mind. You can make this pattern by laying your shirt flat, pinching the center of the fabric, and then twisting the material around the pinch until you end up with a flat piece that resembles a cinnamon roll. Next, wrap rubber bands around the fabric in a criss-cross fashion so that you are left with 6 wedges/quadrants. Finally, squirt a different color of dye onto each quadrant, being careful to saturate both the front and back of your shirt.
STRIPED TIE DYE
I personally love this tie dye pattern, and it’s so easy! To create this look, all you need to do is place your shirt flat, and then fold it into pleats, as if you were folding a fan. Once you have a long, thin piece of folded fabric, secure it in place with rubber bands, being careful to create equal space between each rubber band. Finally, squirt dye on the fabric between each rubber band. You can use the same color, or multiple colors depending on your personal taste!
BULLS EYE TIE DYE
Also known as the circle technique, this tie dye pattern is also very easy to create. Lay your shirt flat to start, and then pinch the fabric in the center, twist, and wrap a rubber band around the material. Continue twisting the fabric and applying rubber bands, spaced equally apart, and then squirt dye onto each piece of exposed material.
8 Beginner Tie Dye Tips and Supplies
Find a Good Work Space
Learning how to make tie dye shirts can be extremely messy. Many people opt to tie dye in their backyard, but if you have a crafting area in your home, that works too! I suggest laying down a drop cloth (or 2) to catch any spills, especially if you’re tie dyeing with your kids!
Choose Your Dye
As you’ll see below, there are many different materials you can use to create your own tie dye shirts. Whether you use a tie dye kit, or want to experiment with bleach, food coloring, Kool Aid, or Sharpie markers, make sure you have all the colors you need on hand to create your masterpiece.
Choose The Right Fabrics
If you’re trying to learn how to make tie dye shirts, it’s important that you choose fabrics with natural fibers (100% cotton is a great option). While other fabrics will work, they can be a bit trickier, so I suggest using something basic to start off with. Keep in mind that you will have a lot of dye on your hands, and your first few attempts at tie dyeing may not go as planned, so the more clothing you have to experiment with, the better. And be sure to save your best pieces for the end when you’ve mastered the process!
If you’re looking for a set of inexpensive white cotton kids tees, we’ve had a lot of luck with these Fruit of the Loom tee-shirts. Make sure to wash them first to remove any chemicals so your dye will set nicely into the fabric.
Gather Your Supplies
While it’s easy to learn how to make tie dye shirts, there are a few supplies you’ll need, including:
- Gloves. Since you’re working with dye, you’ll want something to protect your hands to ensure the color doesn’t stain your skin. Grab a box of disposable gloves for yourself, and a box for your kids!
- Squirt Bottles. One of the easiest techniques for beginners who are trying to learn how to tie dye shirts is to squirt dye directly onto the material you’re working with. This set of 6 plastic squirt bottles is perfect for the job!
- Tongs. You’ll want a pair of tongs handy while tie dyeing – trust me.
- Rubber Bands. Most tie dye techniques require rubber bands, but you can also use string if you don’t have any rubber bands on hand.
- Cooling Rack. Placing your shirt on a cooling rack while you apply dye is a great way to allow the dye to flow through the material and then drip off, rather than collecting at the bottom and creating an unattractive blob of color.
Tie-Dye 101 for Beginners
If you want to know how to make tie dye shirts, this is a great introductory video by Hobby Lobby that is filled with tips and tricks. From pre-washing your fabric, to working with damp material, to figuring out how much dye to use, this tutorial covers it all, with tons of hacks you can use to create beautiful designs.
How to Make Tie Dye Shirts: 4 Techniques to Try
How to Make Tie Dye Shirts with Food Coloring | Samantha Martin
If you want to know how to make tie dye shirts with food coloring, this tutorial will wow you. The instructions are super easy, and it’s a great option to try if you’re crafting with younger kids and are worried about using toxic dyes and bleaches. All you need is a white tee, food coloring, a plastic bag, and rubber bands!
How to Make Tie Dye Shirts with Kool Aid | Joey Graceffa
Did you know you can learn how to make tie dye shirts with Kool Aid?! It’s true! This is a great craft to enjoy with your kids, and it smells amazing, lol!
How to Make Tie Dye Shirts with Bleach | JennaMarbles
If you like the reversed tie dye look and aren’t opposed to working with bleach, this is the tutorial for you! This is a fun technique to try with tweens and teens, and it’s a great way to refresh old clothes you don’t wear anymore but can’t seem to part with.
How to Make Tie Dye Shirts with Sharpie Markers | Martha Stewart
If you want to create a tie dye pattern that’s a little more specific or unique, this tutorial by Martha Stewart is for you! She teaches you how to make tie dye shirts with Sharpie Markers and rubbing alcohol. This is a great technique to use with younger kids as it’s not as messy and allows for more creativity. You can also use this technique on different types of apparel such as socks and shoes, and it makes a great birthday party or sleepover activity!
If you’re trying to learn how to make tie dye shirts, I hope the tips, patterns, and tutorials in this post proved useful to you!
This post contains affiliate links.
If you’re trying to figure out how to make tie dye shirts and found the tips and techniques in this post helpful, please share this post on Pinterest!
And if you’re looking for more ways to have fun at home with your kids, please follow our Kids board where we share all kinds of great ideas we find each day!