How To Tie-Dye With Preschoolers

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Tie-dying is such a fun, creative activity that both you and your little ones can enjoy doing together at home.

Not only will your kids be able to enjoy designing and making their very own new clothes, but they'll also love being able to wear their own creations afterwards. Check out our simple step by step guide to tie-dying with your preschoolers!

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How To Tie-Dye

What you'll need: plain white t-shirts (or whatever item of clothing you'd like to dye), fabric dye (you can purchase a cheap tie-dye kit on Amazon here), and cling film.

1) Set up a workshop area. We'd recommend taking this outside to minimise mess, but if you're going to do this inside - make sure that you cover the area with either newspaper or plastic.

2) Decide on what type of pattern you want to go for. Swirls, stripes, or even just a random pattern - you'll be able to use the guide on the fabric dye kit to help you choose.

3) Roll or fold your t-shirt following the instructions on the box.

4) Using the rubber bands provided, start tying up your t-shirts in their rolled positions. You may need to help little fingers in ensuring that the bands are wrapped tightly enough - this will make sure that the dye doesn't escape.

5) It's time to mix up the dye. Make sure that everyone puts on their plastic gloves, and then follow the instructions from the pack to mix the dye within the bottles.

6) Start applying your dye. This is where the real fun starts! Your kids can go wild with all the different colours,  mixing and matching until the t-shirt is completely covered and totally wet. This is to make sure you don't end up with any white spots.

7) Wrap each of the t-shirts firmly in clingfilm. These will need to be left for around three hours or so.

8) When three hours have passed, you can carefully unwrap your t-shirts and rinse with water in the sink.

9) Keep rinsing! You need to make sure that the whole t-shirt is thoroughly washed.

10) Finally, place the t-shirts in the washing machine for a wash and dry. You'll then be ready to start rocking your wonderful creations!

child holding up hands covered in neon paint

While you may want to start off with basic patterns, there are so many creative ways that you and the kids can design your tie dye clothing - such as hearts, stripes, swirls, and rainbow spirals. The more you practice, the better your t-shirts will turn out - so why not give these more complicated designs a go? Check out the following methods that you can use to easily create some fantastic, colourful designs.

Stripes

1) Fold the sleeves of your t-shirt in - on either side.

2) Begin folding the t-shirt down in small sections, in a repetitive pattern of one fold to the front, and one fold to the back, until the entire shirt is folded.

3) Divide the t-shirt into four sections using three rubber bands, wrapping them around tightly.

4) Using either two or four different coloured dyes, depending on how you want your stripes looking, begin dyeing each of the different sections. Make sure that each section is fully soaked in the dye for the best outcome.  

5) You can then follow the steps 7-10 of the original method above.

Tip: This method is for horizontal stripes. If you'd like to create vertical stripes, simply fold the t-shirt vertically in step two.

Watch this video to see this tutorial in action!

Swirls

1) Once you've got your t-shirt all laid out on a flat surface, pinch an area in the middle and hold it tightly while you swirl the shirt around it with your other hand.

2) Keep swirling the t-shirt around the pinched area until the entire shirt is forming a large circular shape. You may need to play around a bit to get the shirt in this position.

3) Much like the method above, use your rubber bands to tightly secure the shirt in its round position. We'd recommend using three bands across the t-shirt, leaving you with six roughly-even sections.

4) Follow steps 5-10 above, and you'll be ready to wear your brand new clothes!

rack of tie-dyed t-shirts

Heart

1) Fold your t-shirt in half vertically.

2) Using a washable marker, draw half of a large heart along the middle fold of your shirt.

3) Starting at the bottom end of the heart, begin gathering the fabric together.

4) Pinch and hold the fabric together as you move upwards through the heart, trying to keep the fabric in a straight line.

5) Wrap a rubber band around the straight line of fabric, and then use another band to hold together the rest of the tee, creating a second and third section.

5) Mix together your dyes, and use one colour for the section where the heart is. Choose two other colours for the other sections and carefully cover these in the dye.

6) Follow steps 7-10 of the original method above.

If you'd like to watch a tutorial of these patterns, check out the video here.

Rainbow Spiral

1) Place your t-shirt on a flat surface and press down on the centre with a metal fork.

2) Begin twisting the fork so that the shirt spirals around it. Your free hand can help rotate the t-shirt around the fork.

3) Select six or seven rubber bands to secure your shape together, at different angles. Make sure these are wrapped around tightly.

4) Get your dyes ready. For a perfect rainbow, you're going to want all the rainbow colours: red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple.

5) On one side, using the colours red, yellow, and blue - roughly divide the circular shirt into three separate triangular sections. Dye each of these with one of your three colours.

6) Repeat the same action on the other side of the t-shirt with the other three colours.

7) Follow steps 7-10 of the original method above, and wow at your colourful creation.

You can check out the full tutorial here.