Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How To Tie Dye With Preschoolers

My four year old wanted to make "groovy shirts" at her birthday party, so we did. Here's how...

  • 1 white t-shirt for each child 
  • detergent
  • small plastic garbage bags
  • plastic table cover
  • duct tape
  • scissors
  • rubber bands
  • one-step tie dyeing kit
  • heavy duty dishwashing gloves
  • gallon Ziploc baggies
  • black Sharpie marker
  • food service plastic gloves 
  • disposable roasting pan
  • photocopies of instructions
You need 1 t-shirt for each child. Our guests were between the ages of three and four years old, so I bought white Youth Small shirts at Michael's craft store. (I bought a lot of shirts. We had lots of extras, as you can see from the picture above. So, I made shirts for friends who were unable to come, and a week's worth of shirts for my daughter. She'll be sufficiently groovy for the next couple of years.) Some people say you can use undershirts, but I wouldn't. I recommend the t-shirts from a craft store because they're thicker.

Pre-wash your shirts with detergent on cold-cold.

On the day you are going to dye your shirts, you need to get all of your shirts wet. You can do this by running each shirt under water, then squeezing out the excess water, and throwing all the shirts into a small plastic garbage bag.

Cover your picnic table with a plastic table cover. Use duct tape to secure the table cover to the table. Don't forget scissors to cut your duct tape. (Or you can rip it, if you prefer.)

For the easiest tie dye design (above), take out each shirt, lay it flat on the table, pinch it in the middle, twist it into a long snake, and use 3 rubber bands (one at the bottom, one in the middle, and one at the top). (If you do a google image search of "how to tie dye," you'll find all sorts of ways you can rubber band your shirt. I even found one site that recommended using zip ties instead of rubber bands to get cleaner lines, but I didn't go this route because I didn't want anyone to accidentally cut a hole in their t-shirt trying to remove the zip ties.) Make all of your wet-t-shirt-snakes ahead of time, and throw them back in your plastic bag.

We used the Artminds Jumbo Tie Dye kit. This kit is super easy to use. It's a one-step process. You don't have to presoak the t-shirts in soda ash, which means you save time and don't have to purchase another item. The Artminds kit says it makes 80 projects. It will. It comes with large bottles that are pre-filled with powdered dye - just add water - plus it comes with refill packets. We made 22 shirts (1 medium for me, 1 XL for my husband, and 20 youth smalls) and only used 1/3 of each bottle. Unlike smaller kits which only come with 3 colors, this kit comes with 6 colors. I liked that each child would be able to choose their favorite colors.

Put on your heavy duty dishwashing gloves.

Fill your pre-filled dye bottles with water. Shake.

Give each parent a small plastic garbage bag to turn into a smock for their child.

Write each child's name on a gallon Ziploc baggie with a black Sharpie marker.

Give each child a pair of food-service plastic gloves. Our guests loved getting to wear their gloves.

Put a shirt-snake in a disposable roasting pan.

Have the preschooler choose 3 colors.

Help the preschooler squirt dye on his or her shirt (the first color on the bottom, the second color in the middle, and the third color on the top).

Then, stick the shirt in the child's labeled gallon Ziploc baggie.

Give each parent a page of instructions to take home:
  • Keep your t-shirt in baggie until tomorrow.
  • Rinse out dye until water runs clear.
  • Wash t-shirt separately in hot water on largest setting, with a little detergent.
  • Wash separately in cold water for the first few washes.
Now, for my secret. I did not rinse out all those shirts (in the picture above) until the water ran clear. That would have used A LOT of water. Instead, I put on my dishwashing gloves, gave each shirt a QUICK rinse and a good wringing out, and then I threw all of them together into a washing machine filled with cold water, ready to agitate (no detergent). I ran them through, then I re-washed them on hot-warm with detergent, and dried them in the dryer.

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