Friday, June 29, 2012

Tie Dye Project Day

A teenage friend & I devoted a couple of days to tie dye, what fun! We experimented with color dyeing, discharge (bleach) dyeing, painting, stamping and stenciling.

Here are my four of our finished shirts:


This tribute to Portlandia was discharge dyed, then fabric painted and rubber stamped.

Draped the shirt front with wet cheesecloth for resist, then sprayed with 1:2 bleach:water mix. Allowed to bleach for 10 minutes. Rinsed in cold water, then soaked in 1:4 vinegar:water mix to stop the bleach action.

Washed and dried the shirt, then sketched bird silhouette and branches, outlined with fabric paint markers, then filled in with brushed-on fabric paints in black and gold. Used letter stamps for text with pigment ink I hope proves permanent. (Plan to heat set it with my tee shirt press before I wash it again.)



Tried for a mountain range effect on this one: discharge dyed using torn cardboard for resist. This was the fastest & easiest shirt of the day!



This one was straight-up tie dye – haven’t decided if further embellishment is needed. Fan-folded from the lower left corner, then randomly scrunched from the upper right.



And here’s an embellished tie dye: simple vertical fanfolds, dyed, washed and dried. The teal dye permeated the shirt, so there’s no white left, the background is now pale blue. Then applied a purchased screen stencil. This ink requires heat-setting before washing, which I haven’t done yet.

Project Supplies



This time we used the Tulip One-Step Super Big Tie Dye Kit.

We picked this particular kit because it does not require pre-soaking the shirts overnight prior to dyeing – we didn’t want to wait for that.

We also liked that it has 12 dye colors. Sure, you can mix primaries to get shades like lime green or coral, but it’s messy and more difficult to share. But I didn’t notice until we’d gotten started that the kit only comes with 8 plastic bottles for dye, darn it. Next time I’ll have extra bottles on hand.

We also had a problem with the teal color in this kit – it ran. We dyed the shirts and let them sit, some for 8 hours and some overnight for 20 hours. When I un-tied the shirts and rinsed them, all had some un-dyed white areas. When these came out of the washing machine, the white areas of the shirts that had teal dye were now light blue. Not the end of the world, but not what we wanted, either.

JacquardKitOn our previous outing we used the Jacquard Tie Dye Kit, which does require you to soak materials overnight in a soda ash & water mix, and uses Procion dyes.

You only get 3 colors in this kit, red, blue and yellow, so if you want more shades you have to mix them. However, the finished colors with these dyes are brighter & stronger. I’d probably choose this one again for grown-up project days; but if you’re working with younger kids, or a larger group, I’d go with the Tulip kit.

tulipmarkersWe used Tulip Fabric Paint Markers, which were a lot of fun and easy to use, but the set we bought had very fine points. Great for outlining or doodle-type designs, not so great for filling in large areas. We found that brushing on fabric paints worked better for that.


zipscreenThe silk-screen type stencil we found at Wal-Mart is called a Zip Screen, and it worked really well. It’s a laser-cut plastic sheet with adhesive backing; you purchase the ink separately in a small plastic bag with a built-in squeegee. Nice!

We purchased some blank tee shirts also at Wal-Mart, where we found 100% cotton Faded Glory shirts for only $4.48 each. We also used some shirts from the back of the closet. It’s nice to have a crummy shirt or two for experimental purposes; you can always wear it to wash the dog.

Next Time …

The biggest hit of the day was the discharge dyeing with bleach. It’s more immediate than tie dyeing: you see results in 10 minutes, and it’s like magic to watch it happen. When you bleach dark-colored shirts, you never know what color will be revealed – the black shirts shown above bleached to a light rust color, but you might get tan, white, or even pink! And it uses ordinary household materials – bonus!

Next time we’d like to experiment with different resist materials for patterning. Maybe try the cheesecloth dry instead of wet … get some onion bag mesh … and try different ties, like those little zip strips, to tie up the shirts as for tie dyeing, but use the bleach solution instead.

And we enjoyed the fabric painting on the dyed fabric. We’d like to get some of that fabric medium you mix with acrylic paints, instead of buying the dedicated fabric paint (small high-priced bottles in few colors).

All in all, big fun!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Cream for Knitters
Sandia Park, NM