How To Tie-dye With Kids-Fun, Creative and Easier Than You Think!

It was during one of my many overly caffeinated, “I-got-this” self-pep talks, when I added tie-dying to our exhaustingly long stay-at-home activity list. I admit, I was regretting it and secretly dreading it. Each day, I would quietly bury it further down the list until my kids finally asked when the rainbow spiral adventures would start. I did the research and realized the activity required some planning. Little did I know, the One-Step Tie-Dye kit from Tulip would simplify EVERYTHING!

As I mentioned earlier, it takes planning. You need the dye, pre-washed fabric, and a designated workspace. Our kit, Tulip’s One-Step Tie-Dye Kit Party Creative Group Activities, All-in-1 DIY Fashion Dye Kit, was fabulous. It included 14 colors of dye, squirt bottles, gloves, rubber bands, an inspirational guide with 5 patterns and even a large plastic protective sheet. Just add water to the squirt bottles, shake and your kids are ready to dye.

Items needed:

(Links to items seen in this post are listed at the end of this post)

  • Fabric to dye (cotton and linen work best)
  • One-step tie-dye kit (which includes everything you need)
  • plastic bags or saran wrap to put your items in while they sit

Setting up your Tie-Dye Work Space

This activity is a great reason to get outside. If you can’t get outdoors, the kitchen counter or bathroom floor will do just fine. I know, I know, the first thought of tie-dying with kids is: too messy! I thought the exact same thing. I was wrong.

After deciding where to dye, lay down some plastic (included with kit if you buy it) to protect your workspace. If you don’t get a kit, use a plastic garbage bag and secure with tape. Then top the plastic with a layer of paper towels. These will absorb any extra die which drips off and the garbage bag will protect your table.

Next you need to pick a pattern and tie up your fabric.

Have the kids chose a pattern. Check out these YouTube tutorials for spiral, heart and spider techniques if you need more inspiration.

Time to tie-dye!

Dampen your fabric (best to dye while fabric is wet), tie it up with rubber bands, don those gloves, add water to your squirt bottles, and shake.

Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye
pre-washed wet fabric is bound with bands waiting for dye

When you are finished dying an item, wrap it in Saran Wrap or place in a plastic grocery bag.

Let it rest for 24-48 hours. The longer you leave the dye resting on the fabric, the darker your colors will turn out. We let ours rest for 24 hours. Then rinse each item with cool water and send through your laundry cycle. I would recommend washing separately from your other clothes the first time as leftover dye may bleed out.

Here is how our first project turned out!

tie-dye with the kids

Reverse dying with bleach

We reverse dyed 1 item, a mustard colored baby romper from Amazon. Reverse dying is applying bleach to remove the dye from fabric. I started by rubberbanding a few coins in the fabric near the romper’s neckline. I had seen a person do it using marbles and the effect was amazing. After banding the coins, I dipped each one in a shallow puddle of bleach I sprayed on my plastic liner.

Rubberbanded coins to create circular shapes

Then I bunched up the remaining fabric and secured with rubber bands.

I sprayed the fabric with a few squirts ensuring I covered the exposed fabric but not enough for it to soak completely through. Then I flipped the item over and sprayed the back. I placed the romper in a plastic grocery bag and let it sit for 2 hours.

let the fabric rest for 2 hours in a plastic bag

Check the fabric frequently, do not let it rest for 24-48 hours like when tie-dying.

Here is why: bleach contains Hypocloric Acid. This acid acts as a very strong oxidizer. It attacks dyes in clothing by injecting chlorine or oxygen which breaks up the color molecule. This process reduces the color or removes it entirely from the fabric. The fabric can be damaged since the bleach also oxidizes the clothing. So, don’t leave the bleach on your fabric for very long. Check on the item frequently.

I decided the baby romper was good after 2 hours. I removed the rubber bands, coins and ran through a normal laundry cycle. As you can see from the picture below, the areas where I had directly applied bleach to the coins had completely turned white. I love how this turned out, the only thing I would do differently next time is space out the circles more to limit the bleach bleeding together.

reverse dyed baby romper while wet

Here is our baby wearing the final product. It turned out much lighter overall. Next time, I will probably wash out the bleach after about an hour or so.

I hope you enjoyed the post as much as we had tie-dying! We have already emptied our dressers and found more items to dye. The kit provides enough dye for up to 36 projects!

Items from this post:

For another fun activity for the kids, have them make snow!

3 thoughts on “How To Tie-dye With Kids-Fun, Creative and Easier Than You Think!

  1. Thank you for this post! I love the little yellow overalls! My daughter has been showing interest in tie-dying lately and I know would love it if I bought the proper kit. Your post is very helpful. We will have to try this soon. 🙂

  2. I needed this post! I too have it on my list – even bought this kit already, but keep pushing it down on the list of activities to do with the kids. I feel encouraged to do it this week! Thank you!

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