Tie Dye Twins

It’s that time of year! Summer is upon us and there are too many fun times to be had. After a rough winter being couped up we have been soaking up as much fresh air as we can. I’ll openly admit that I have been slacking on blogging because of all this nice weather but I am so excited to show you all of the fun we have been having.  

Our first summer project!

One of the first projects my son and I have completed is tie dying our own shirts. I had no idea what I was truly in for as a first timer. It was definitely a process that took a lot longer than I had anticipated. I wanted to make sure we didn’t cut any corners. I want the shirts to last as long as the memories. Forever.  

Having never done a project like this before I had no idea what type of tie dying to do. There were so many options when I went to Joann Fabrics. Tulip tie dye was a brand I was familiar with from Facebook so I ultimately ended up purchasing it.  

I had only ever thought of tie dying as dunking small sections of a shirt into colored buckets of water. Nowadays there is apparently also aerosol colorant called Tulip Color Shot that can be used to make more precise designs. Which is a really cool technique as well but I wanted to stick to the old school style.  

The dye

The Tulip dye packs come in several different options. You can get a single color, 3-packs, 5-packs, or packages with every color you can imagine. I think by now most of you know that I like to be budget savvy. I chose the 5-pack of dyes. It came with everything I needed for the project except the shirts. The Tulip 5-pack comes in several color choices. Retail price was $19.99 but of course Joann Fabrics always has coupons and great sale items so I was able to score it at 40% off.  

The shirts

The T-shirts are great quality. The brand and price vary depending on where you buy them but typically stay around $5.00. I was able to get everything I needed in one trip and at the same store. The brand of shirt that Joann’s was carrying was Gildan. I’m a huge fan of these and the Jerzees brand because they are soft and don’t shrink much. These were also on sale at 4 for $10 (retail price $4.49 each). 

If you have never tie dyed anything before have no fear! The Tulip tie dye kit comes with dye, coloring bottles, rubber bands, and a user-friendly set of instructions. The instructions give you before and after care information and different ways to set the rubber bands to get different designs on your shirt. My son chose to do stripes and I went with the classic spiral.

Tie Dye Tip

The dying process was pretty straight forward. However, I want to urge you to follow the instructions as they are stated and without question. I say this because there was one word that was used that I kept assuming was being used in the wrong context so I almost skipped the step. I ended up googling the information. I was quite surprised grateful that I did not skip over the step because it was pretty important.  

Step by step

Getting to the point: the instructions advised to wash the shirt before dying it to remove any “sizing”. I thought they were talking about fabric shrinkage but, in this context, the definition of “size” or “sizing” is “any one of numerous substances that is applied to, or incorporated into, other materials – especially paper or textiles – to act as a protective filler or glaze” according to Wikipedia. So, the importance of this step (in tie dying) is to remove the chemicals that are acting as a protectant on the garment so the dye is better able to penetrate the fabric.  

After hand washing the shirt in the kitchen sink and mixing the dye,  we were ready to dye the shirts! I set it up outside on our walk way to avoid making a mess all over my kitchen. It was a gorgeous evening so we took advantage of it.  

While the shirts were still damp I added the rubber bands to achieve each of our desired designs. This was a great project for small children because you can either use a design from the instructions or make your own. It really leaves a lot of room for everyone to express their creativity.  

It didn’t take long to dye the shirts but once we were done everyone had to play the waiting game. It was the most boring part of the project. The instructions said to wrap the shirts and let them sit for several hours or overnight. The longer the shirts sit in the dye the more intense the color payoff.

Finishing up

After that, wash out the excess dye. I used my kitchen sink and some laundry soap then hung the shirts up to dry. The instructions encourage you to wash the shirts in a separate load for the first few washes in case more dye comes out. Honestly, after the shirts were completely finished and dried,  I threw them in with the rest of my laundry and didn’t have any color exchange. I would recommend making sure that when you wash the dye out you don’t skimp on waiting until the water starts running clear.  The clearer the water, the less chance you have of the shirt bleeding in the washing machine. 

From start to finish I would guess the project took 9 hours. One hour to prep, dye, wash, and clean up and 8 hours waiting for the dye to set. Regardless of the time, our shirts turned out amazing! It was a great time to not only bond with my son — which I always love and take advantage of because they grow up so quickly– and have fun but it also gave us an educational opportunity; we learned about mixing colors, measuring, and science (of course) because we saw how the dye would creep into areas of the shirt that we didn’t put color on.  


One of the greatest things about tie dying is you can tie dye anything! Grab your bed sheets, tote bags, shirts, curtains… the options are endless. It’s also a fantastic project to get your friends and family involved in. The 5-pack tie dye kit that I purchased claims to dye up to 30 projects (depending on size of course) so call in the troops before getting started.  

Have fun and share your projects in the comments!  

Materials: Tulip Tie Dye Kit (5-pack), White T-shirts, Plastic wrap, water, laundry soap 


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