How to Make a Spiral Tie-Dye T-Shirt
A tie-dye project is a great summertime art activity for kids and adults. While it can get a little messy, it’s a fun project for a warm day with wearable results.
An easy-to-find dye kit is the simplest way to make a tie-dye project, especially if you are a beginner. It comes with everything you need in one package. A dye kit allows you to just add water to easy-to-use squirt bottles that have been pre-filled with dye. The cost of the kit will also depend on how many colors you purchase. If you cannot find a kit with bottles, using individually bought powdered dye and materials will also work. Powdered dye needs to be made in larger containers or tubs. Using a big tub of dye heightens the risk for staining and spilling dye, but you can also dye more or larger items.
Don't stop your tie-dying adventures using just shirts. If you enjoyed this project, you can also make a scarf to go with it. You can even learn to make your own organic dyes for future projects.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Apron/old clothes
- Vinyl or non-latex gloves
- Plastic sheeting
- Rubber bands
- Plastic wrap
- A one-step dye kit (or powdered RIT dyes)
- Plain white T-shirt
Do the Prep Work
- While tie-dying, wear old clothes that won't matter if they get stained. Even with gloves and an apron, it's likely dye could end up somewhere it's not supposed to.
- Mix your dye bottles according to the package instructions and set aside.
- Go outside and cover any surface that you don’t want the dye to get on with plastic sheeting. Any spills outside are less worrisome than spills indoors.
Twist the T-Shirt
- Lay your T-shirt down completely flat on your work surface.
- Find the center of the shirt.
- Place the tines of the fork into the center of the shirt, like you’re jabbing the T-shirt with the fork.
- Swirl the fork the same way you’d swirl spaghetti.
- Keep swirling until the shirt is rolled into a circular shape.
Rubber Band the Shirt
- Take four rubber bands and wrap them around the T-shirt to secure the swirled circle.
- Wrap one around the top, so it’s running down the center of the roll.
- Then do a few diagonal wraps.
- All of the rubber bands should meet in the middle, forming an asterisk-shape.
Apply the Dye
- Apply the dye to the shirt with the plastic squeeze bottles.
- Try to fully cover the shirt with dye and use multiple colors and patterns.
- Once the shirt is fully covered in dye, wrap it in plastic and let it sit for six to eight hours. The dye setting time and specific directions will vary based on the dye.
Rinse the T-Shirt
- Wearing gloves, unwrap the shirt from the plastic wrap.
- Remove the rubber bands.
- Rinse the unwrapped T-shirt in warm water.
- Gradually adjust the water temperature to cool while rinsing.
- When the water runs clear, you are done rinsing.
- Hang the shirt outdoors to dry so that the excess dye does not drip indoors onto your floor.
The first time you wash the shirt, wash it alone (or with items that you don’t care too much about) as a precaution to prevent the dye from bleeding on other fabrics.