Experiments In Tie Dye

It started with a shirt from the thrift store — a bright tie-dyed shirt, mainly in orange, which very briefly became The Thing in our household. Technically Nathan had picked it out, but Ryan wanted to wear it, and Nathan, despite the fact that he wasn’t wearing it, definitely did not want Ryan wearing it because… Well, I’ve no idea why, actually. Such questions are pointless.

To keep the peace, I suggested to Ryan that we tie-dye a shirt for him, too. He was all for this, or at least he didn’t object and he stopped trying to steal Nathan’s shirt. That’s a solid win.

The last time I did tie-dye it was in grade school, and I have a vague memory of tubs of dye set up out in the school’s courtyard, and lots of kids with inexpertly bound shirts, and me carting my own inexpertly bound shirt from one adult-moderated dye bath to another. In my memory all of the dye baths looked, to my young eyes, like some shade of mud — which, if the same bath had been used for the last thirty kids, was probably true. I’ve no idea how old I was, but attached to this vague memory is the belief that whatever I came out with wasn’t very cool and in fact may never have been worn.

So I was delighted to discover at the craft store that these days tie-dye doesn’t necessarily involve large, scary-looking dye baths. You can get a neat little kit with just-add-water squeeze bottles of different dye colors, and these are conveniently located next to all of the inexpensive probably-not-made-with-child-labor T-shirts, in various sizes, from Ryan-sized to pregnant-woman-sized. And as if to seal the deal, they also had packages of onesies. Holy Moses, I could make tie-dyed onesies!

(I may have mentioned that I’m pregnant. Onesies represent a minor obsession that I try with limited success to fight.)

I got a 12-pack of the dyes, but mindful that it was a lot more dye than I had fabric for, I let Ryan only choose four of the colors for our first foray. (Nathan, despite the fact that I’d optimistically gotten a shirt for him too, refused to have anything to do with the proceedings, so Ryan got to do two shirts.) He chose Wine, Red, Pink, and Yellow, thereby proving that he’s inherited Mom’s warm-color bias instead of my own cool-color one. He eschewed any scrunching or rubber band work, preferring to apply the dye straight to the shirts in rich, uncomplicated patches.


Myself, I discovered that you can do a simple kind of batik using Elmer’s glue with these dyes. That and some rubber bands kept me happy with my own shirt.


And best of all, did I mention the onesies..?


We have eight dyes left, and I think we’re going to have a tie-dye playgroup party sometime soon…


2 Responses to “Experiments In Tie Dye”

  1. Mary Kay Barbieri Says:

    I especially love those onesies!

  2. Baby-Made | Ilex Quilts Says:

    […] I starting tie-dying onesies (wow, was it only two years ago?) there was no stopping. There’s something about those little […]

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